Conroe coach Tamisha Houston knew her young team was going to have to play well down the stretch of the district schedule to secure a postseason berth. The Lady Tigers have done just that, and with two games remaining, they have officially clinched their spot.
Conroe likely would have been in the postseason regardless of their performance on Tuesday night at Marsha Porter Gymnasium. But the Lady Tigers decided to take care of business at home and came away with a victory that keeps them in the district title race.
Conroe earned a 58-44 triumph against first-place Klein Collins and nearly led from wire to wire en route to securing the program’s first playoff appearance since the 2015-16 season.
“It’s exciting,” Houston said. “That’s one of the things I wanted to do when I took over here — I wanted these kids to believe that they could content, that they could compete, that they were good enough, no matter what they had been told in the past. We were not the step child of this area. They’re buying in, they’re playing hard, they’re letting me coach, and they’re taking care of one another. I think that with the group of kids we have right now, it could be something pretty special for years to come.”
Conroe (18-9, 11-3) has now won five consecutive games and will look to keep that momentum going as the team closes out the regular season. The victory also provided redemption from the first time the teams met back on Dec. 20, a contest Klein Collins won 53-51. Klein Collins (20-9, 12-3) had its three-game winning streak snapped with the loss.
Conroe and Oak Ridge (20-11, 11-3), which defeated Klein Cain on Tuesday, are tied for second place in the District 15-6A standings, just ½ game behind Klein Collins. Conroe closes out the season on the road against Klein Forest and at home against Oak Ridge.
JaKayla Bradford led the charge for Conroe with 20 points, Kennedy Powell added 16, and Jade Turner finished with eight. Emily Dogbaste and Katelyn Alatini each scored 10 points to lead Klein Collins, and Elecia Lartigue finished with nine.
“They just want to put a banner up that says they are [district] champions,” Houston said. “This team has exceeded my expectations tremendously, so I’m just enjoying the ride.”
Conroe was not able to get on the board until almost two minutes had dissipated from the clock in the opening quarter, but the home team quickly rebounded from the slow start. Conroe pulled ahead with an 8-0 run and led 13-5 at the end of the period. Klein Collins made the first basket of the game at the 7:39 mark but was held without another the rest of the way. Conroe established its three-possession lead despite nine turnovers.
Klein Collins outscored Conroe 11-10 in the second quarter, but the visitors never got closer than five points from the lead. The home team led 22-15 at the intermission, holding Klein Collins to 18 percent shooting from the floor over the first two periods. Conroe led 35-21 after three quarters with another strong performance and pulled away in the fourth thanks to a barrage of steals and fast break layups.
“It’s our defensive intensity,” Houston said. “With the defense we play, we take chances. Sometimes it works out in our favor, sometimes it costs us, but the one thing the girls continue to do is fight. Before the game, I explained to them that we needed to win three quarters. The last game, we split, two quarters each, but they did enough to beat us by two, so tonight we had to win three quarters, and it had to start with our defense.”