WAXAHACHIE — With three minutes left in Friday’s Class 4A Region I area-round playoff game, Waco coach Ross Barber called a timeout, pointed to his bench and said “Have a seat.”
Guyer had cut a 15-point Waco lead down to one and had two free throws on the way — a chance to take its first lead of the game.
That lead never came. Guyer senior Katy Davis missed both free throws, and Waco survived with a 47-41 victory at Waxahachie’s George Solis Gym.
The loss eliminated Guyer (22-9) from the playoffs. Waco (28-5) advances to play Fort Worth Dunbar or Crowley on Tuesday at Glen Rose.
Guyer coach Harold Colson said his team fell too far behind early on, and by the time it ended three Wildcat starters fouled out of the contest.
“I don’t know if we were just out of gas at that point,” Colson said. “When you build yourself a deficit like that, it takes a lot of energy to come back. With the foul trouble and the kids being off the floor, it all mounted against us and ended up doing us in.”
Junior guard Quamese Moss was one of the Wildcats who reached the game’s five-foul limit. She scored a game-high 23 points and went 10-of-10 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
Moss picked up her fourth foul with 5:19 left and was quickly benched. Colson put her back in as Waco opened up a five-point lead.
Moss appeared to pick up her fifth foul with 3:52 left. Instead, a blocking foul was called on Waco’s Taylor Bean. Colson walked toward the scoring table with a slight grin on his face as Moss knocked down both free throws to cut Waco’s lead to three points.
Colson’s demeanor changed as Guyer’s fleeting chance to take the lead evaporated and more of his players fouled out.
With less than two minutes remaining, Colson turned toward one of the officials and said, “Y’all are going to foul my whole team out.” Colson was whistled for a technical foul, but Waco senior Shamiya Blake missed the two ensuing free throws.
Blake led the Lady Lions with 16 points and racked up 13 rebounds. Blake had a key basket to push the Waco’s lead back to six, all but sealing the victory.
Barber said it was the first time since a Jan. 4 victory against Crowley that his team hadn’t won by more than 10 points.
“We needed a team that was going to push us,” Barber said. “I just called a timeout [with Guyer trailing by one] and looked at the girls and said, ‘Look, this is what we need. This is what’s going to show our heart and character.’ And they executed down the stretch.”
Barber said the officiating was tight in the fourth quarter.
“I thought as hard as these teams were playing, the foul count got a little out of control,” Barber said. “But the refs weren’t bad. They talked to us about it.”
Guyer was quickly drawn into foul trouble in the first half, a testament to Waco’s aggressiveness. The Lady Lions earned frequent trips to the line early in the half, a trend that switched to Guyer’s favor toward the end of the half.
However, the Lady Wildcats couldn’t convert when they stepped to the line. Guyer missed 10 of its 16 free throws in the first half. Waco knocked down nine of its 16 chances.
Missed free throws, turnovers and a surplus of surrendered offensive rebounds enabled Waco to take a 25-12 lead into the locker room.
The Lady Wildcats took a huge loss when senior forward Bre Clay-Baker appeared to suffer a knee injury early in the third quarter. Baker remained on the bench for the rest of the game with ice on the knee.
“A kid who’s been there all year and has won games all year and has been solid for us goes out of the game,” Colson said. “You have that, along with the kids who fouled out, along with us — we have ourselves to blame as well, as far as missing shots and missing free throws.”
Guyer chipped away at its 15-point deficit in the second half but couldn’t erase the gap.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Waco senior forward Jantinequa Gill hunched over the ball near mid-court, shielding it from a Guyer defender.
“Don’t let go!” Barber yelled. “Don’t let go.”
Gill held on to the ball, sealing Guyer’s playoff exit.
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869.
Waco 47, Guyer 41
Waco 14 11 9 13 — 47
Guyer 5 7 12 17 — 41
Waco (28-5) — Shamiya Blake 16, Areka Duffey 14, Diamond Ervin 6, Armoni Pittman 6, Dionndriah Simmons 2, Jantinequa Gill 2, Taylor Bean 1.
Guyer (22-9) — Quamese Moss 23, Tierney Peters 8, Jada Calloway 5, Katy Davis 4, Ola Akinniyi 1.