HS Girls Basketball: Conroe Edges The Woodlands in Thrilling Fashion to Remain Unbeaten in District

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 12/08/2023


CONROE, TX -- The Conroe Lady Tigers (6-10) outlasted the visiting Woodlands Lady Highlanders (8-8) in a nail-biting 43-40 win as the teams dive deeper into the district schedule.

A defensively heavy matchup was indicated from the opening minutes of the game as both teams battled for possessions. Jump-balls and turnovers defined the opening stretch for both squads before they could find their footing on offense.

The Lady Highlanders were the first team to find cohesion on offense by generating turnovers from their full-court press into points from layups.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online, Conroe Head Coach Tamisha Houston spoke on how the defensive pressure tested her girls.

“We got discouraged when we turned the ball over,” said Houston. “Once we settled in and we figured out the open spots, we were able to get the ball up the floor better.”

Even when Conroe would break the press and begin working their offense, the Lady Highlanders made stops and forced misses around the basket. The size advantage played into the Lady Tigers’ hand, but The Lady Highlanders came away with the boards more often than their opponents.

As the first quarter continued, the Lady Tigers shored up their issues on the defensive end and began to turn The Woodlands away.

The stops on defense encouraged Conroe to work their offense more methodically than they had to start the game. Passes around the three-point line allowed the bigger bodies of the Lady Tigers to work for easier shots.

Unfortunately for both teams, the shots were not falling the way they were anticipating. The first quarter ended with neither team breaching double-digits, with the Lady Highlanders up 8-6.

A lack of scoring would continue to plague both teams through the second quarter. The Lady Highlanders were most affected by the drought, as they failed to score any points for the first three minutes of the quarter.

Conroe only mustered one point during the same period, leaving the window open for The Woodlands to build their lead with points from the free-throw line.

“Our decision-making let us down at points,” said Houston. “Us being put in tough situations and us being young boosted our confidence when we eventually saw success.”

The lead was short-lived due to a Conroe three that tied the game at 10 points apiece, but the Lady Highlanders quickly recaptured it with a layup in transition.

A new battle of forcing ties and briefly taking the lead followed the recent scoring flurry from both teams. Neither team broke away from their opponent as the second quarter ticked on, with the largest lead throughout the second half of the quarter being three.

A buzzer-beater from Conroe’s MaKenzie Castille was the reason for the lead in the first place, giving her team a 17-14 advantage over The Woodlands as the teams hit the locker rooms.

Similarly to the first half, the Lady Highlanders fought against the advantage that Conroe had built themselves. A rapid 4-0 run in the opening minute reasserted The Woodlands in front, and another fight for the lead ensued.

Made shots provided a brief window to try and grow the lead for either team, but the frequency of makes kept both teams equally in reach of each other.

The first separation came from the Lady Tigers, who benefited from made three-pointers and a handful of stops on defense to build a four-point lead on the Lady Highlanders midway through the third quarter.

“Our biggest boost was our inside and out,” said Houston. “When they wanted to dig in and stop us from scoring with our bigs, we were able to kick it out, and our guards stepped up.”

The Lady Highlanders responded by dropping the full-court press and adopting a tight, half-court, man-to-man defense. The switch suffocated Conroe, who was forced to work the ball around the floor multiple times to find an opening.

With Conroe’s opportunities drying up and The Woodlands maintaining consistent scoring, an intense fourth quarter was in store. Only three points separated the two squads, with the Lady Tigers holding the advantage.

The tension was heightened by neither team scoring through the first two minutes of play. Both teams had looks around the hoop but failed to put the ball in the basket.

The Woodlands’ Rachael Roberts was the first play to score in the fourth quarter with a layup that put her team within one point of tying the game. The lead finally swung back in the Lady Highlanders’ favor with another layup, this time from Isa Alaniz.

Conroe refused to go down without fighting, as they proceeded to notch four straight points to reclaim the lead with just over two minutes left in the game.

A series of back-and-forth scores from Conroe and The Woodlands kept the palpable tension alive down the stretch. A basket from either side was matched by one from the other, keeping the lead at a single point for the Lady Tigers.

“The bench was big for us tonight,” said Houston about the crucial moments. “Keeping everybody motivated and helping me yell things out in this gym, so it was a total team effort.”

Missed free throws from Conroe kept the window open for the Lady Highlanders, but a crucial travel with a chance to take the lead gave the momentum back to the Lady Tigers.

A desperation shot from three to tie missed the mark for the Lady Highlanders, who suffered an agonizing 43-40 defeat as the clock hit zero.

The win keeps Conroe’s unbeaten streak in district play alive while providing a supportive boost going into the weekend.

“It teaches us that we can do it,” said Houston. “Our youth is not a negative thing. It’s about our will, our desire, and our effort.”

The Lady Tigers will prepare for next Tuesday’s matchup against the Oak Ridge Lady War Eagles. Meanwhile, the Lady Highlanders will lick their wounds and gear up to host the Grand Oaks Lady Grizzlies.

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