By Evan Ren (Reporter News)
In a do-or-die evening finale that was going to leave one team in tears and the other elated, it was Hawley that was posing for pictures in the aftermath.
Samantha Newton scored a game-high 27 points and Hadlee Hicks dropped in 16 more to lead the Lady Cats (14-14, 7-6), who will face Irion County in the bi-district round at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Roscoe.
Stamford, which ended its campaign at 12-17 overall and 6-7 in district, was led by Brooklyn Woodard with 17 points, Morgan Butler with 13 and Taylor Beeson with 10.
“Stamford’s a great team with a great coach and we have a lot of respect for them,” Hawley coach Andrea Ables said. “But I’m proud of our girls for sticking with it and fighting through it.”
Building a 33-17 lead by the break, the Lady Cats hung on for dear life as Stam-ford opened the third quarter on a 14-2 run. By the time Beeson canned two free throws at the 3:25 mark of the third quarter, Hawley’s lead had withered away to 3 5-31.
The Lady Cats recovered, however, closing the quarter with an 11-4 spurt of their own — helped by two 3-pointers from Delaney Delarosa and a third from Newton.
Trailing 46-35 heading into the fourth quarter, Stamford eventually cut the gap to five again when Beeson, who was just getting over the flu, scored on a putback with 1:37 to play.
But four late free throws — two each from Hicks and Newton — coupled with a defense that didn’t allow a field goal in the final 1:36, helped push the Lady Cats into the playoffs.
“I think our kids showed some resilience,” Stamford coach Missy Dutchover said. “I don’t ever consider us to be out of a game because they’ll keep fighting.
“Had we hit a few of shots at certain points of the game it might have been (different). But you have to give Hawley credit.”
DISTRICT 8-2A PLAYOFF
HAWLEY 58 STAMFORD 49
Stamford 9 8 18 14— 49 Hawley 18 15 13 12— 58 STAMFORD (12-17, 6-7) — Brooklyn Woodard 17, Bre Ratheal 8, Morgan Butler 13, Taylor Beeson 10, Kaitlyn Kovar 1.
HAWLEY (14-14, 7-6) — Hadlee Hicks 16, Samantha Newton 27, Whitney Pack 2, Delaney Delarosa 9, Cecylee Hicks 4.