By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

 SAN ANTONIO – A magical season for the Slocum Lady Mustangs came to an end on Thursday, March 2 at the hands of the Nazareth Swiftettes as Nazareth defeated Slocum in the 2016-2017 Girls’ UIL State Basketball Semifinals by a score of 63-31.

Nazareth came into the game ranked as the #1 team in Class 1A while Slocum was ranked at #17 in the final regular season Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll and for a while it looked as if the Lady Mustangs might have a shot at the upset.

As the game got underway, Slocum’s Taylor Clark scored the game’s first two points on a layup. Nazareth responded with a 10-0 run to pull ahead, before Makayla Bickerstaff snagged an offensive rebound and put in a two to make the score 10-4.

After a Nazareth foul gave the ball back to Slocum, Jessi Ives dropped in a two. The fourth Swiftettes’ team foul gave the Lady Mustangs the ball and Briley Evers drained a 3-pointer from the behind the arc to make the score 10-9.

A bucket from Nazareth was followed by a second Slocum 3-pointer from Briley Evers to tie the game at 12 with 45 seconds remaining in the first quarter. A steal by Nazareth with time running down in the quarter resulted in two foul shots for the Swiftettes and after the first period of play, Nazareth led by a score of 14-12.

Unfortunately, that was as close as the Lady Mustangs would get the rest of the game. The second period opened with the Swiftettes going on an 8-0 run to make the score 20-12. Cheyenne Nunley made a layup at the 6:32 mark of the quarter to break the streak and Bickerstaff made one of two from the line to cut the lead to 22-15.

Nazareth went on a 9-0 at that point to open up a 31-15 lead. Evers hit her second 3-pointer of the game to stop the Swiftettes’ scoring binge. A layup from Clark made the score 31-20 with under a minute left to play in the half.

A two for the Swiftettes pushed the lead to 13 but an Evers free throw and a two from Ives just before the horn, cut the lead to 33-23 as the teams went to their respective locker rooms at the break.

When the two teams returned to the court for the start of the second half, things began to fall apart for Slocum. The Lady Mustangs were unable to score for the first six minutes of the quarter as Nazareth moved out to a 41-23 lead.

Slocum was ice cold from the field and only scored five points in the quarter on a three point play from Ives and two free throws from Clark.

The Swiftettes, meanwhile, knocked down 12 points to push their lead out to 45-28 by the end of the third.

Things got even worse for Slocum as they only managed to post three points in the final frame on a 3-pointer from Bickerstaff at the 7:24 mark of the period. After Bickerstaff’s three, Nazareth went on a 16-0 run to close out the game and give the Swiftettes the 63-31 win.

On the game Slocum was led in scoring by Briley Evers and Jessi Ives with seven apiece. Makayla Bickerstaff and Taylor Clark both had six, Shelby Bowman had three and Cheyenne Nunley put up two to round out the Lady Mustangs’ point production.

Nazareth was led in the scoring column by Cambrie Heiman with 17 points and Allie Schulte with 15. Ellen Schilderink netted 10 while both Kinzi Cleavinger and Blakely Gerber had eight. Abby Schmucker knocked down three and Laci Backus closed out the Swiftette scoring with two.

While it certainly wasn’t the way the Lady Mustangs wanted their season to end, the Slocum girls had a phenomenal season and should be congratulated for reaching the State Tournament. The team only loses two seniors – Makayla Bickerstaff and Cheyenne Nunley – and should be favored to make another deep playoff run next year. From all of us here at The Messenger, we would like to congratulate the Slocum Lady Mustangs on a great season!

PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE LIMERICK

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.