HS Girls Basketball Playoffs: Spring Onslaught Ends Conroe’s Season in Bitter Defeat

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 02/12/2024


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The Conroe Lady Tigers (15-15) fell in a 58-47 loss to the Spring Lady Tigers (28-7) in the Bi-District round of the UIL State Tournament.

Sparks flew after the opening tip, with both teams accelerating their offenses early. A heavy focus on outside shooting kept the teams locked in a contentious battle of back-and-forth points.

Three-pointers from Conroe’s Makenzie Castille kept the team a perpetual step ahead, and offensive rebounds near the glass provided looks for second-chance points.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Conroe Head Coach Tamisha Houston illustrated the importance of a strong opening performance given the stakes.

“[Castille] has been in these situations before, so she came out with determination,” said Houston. “I just wish some of our other kids settled in quicker and matched her energy.”

Spring refused to let their opponents get the upper hand by matching every basket with one of their own. The additional support from both teams traveling to a neutral site heightened the excitement in the game’s opening moments.

Both teams began to get a feel for one another as the quarter soldiered on. The rapid offense that defined the early to middle of the quarter slowed to free throws and layups as the only made shots. This changeup left the teams with Spring in front 15-14.

After the shooters fell silent towards the end of the first, the scoring reignited in favor of the Lady Tigers. A 4-0 run to start the second got Conroe back in front, with Spring having to make changes on the fly.

Their changes manifested in a greater focus on drives to the basket for layups or fouls on Lady Tiger defenders. The strategy worked twofold, with fouls piling up against Conroe and the lead rebounding to the Lady Lions.

The minor Spring comeback failed to create enough separation for the team to pull away entirely. Conroe continued to stay in the rearview throughout the second quarter, with crucial makes keeping the team within one possession of tying.

Conroe’s grasp on defense began to loosen with one minute left in the half as Spring’s shooters started reconnecting from behind the arch. Back-to-back threes from the Lady Lions gave the team the largest lead of the game by either squad at seven points.

Like they had done all game, Conroe battled through the adversity and sank shots that brought the game back to two. Spring still held the lead going into the locker rooms, with a 29-27 lead.

“This is your game to go and take,” said Houston during the half. “You guys are going to have to go out and do the small things, talk on defense, and be aggressive on offense.”

Intense chants from the opposing step teams heightened the emotions as the teams returned to the floor. The buildup of energy in the stands bled to the players on the floor, who played with an increased speed contrasted to the first half.

The speed of the Lady Lions was a leading factor in the team’s success in the first minutes of the new half. Transitions led to opportunistic looks near the rim and easier points for the team overall.

Spring’s pace caught Conroe flatfooted, with their defense unable to keep up on the fastbreak. A scoring drought through the first four minutes of the third also aided in Conroe falling behind by double digits for the first time.

A Lady Tiger timeout hoped to remedy the situation by resettlement the team during a pause, but the stop failed to slow down Spring’s onslaught.

“We’re young, and we have some kids that this is their very first time in this type of atmosphere,” said Houston. “That kind of rattled us down the stretch.”

The shooting woes continued for Conroe, with the team still scoreless in the quarter as the clock hit three minutes remaining. Conroe’s struggles were to Spring’s benefit, as they swelled the lead to 14 before the Lady Tigers found their first make.

Conroe only mustered four points in the quarter, ending with the Lady Lions taking a commanding 46-31 lead into the fourth.

With the Lady Lions handily in front, Conroe was forced to find their points in bulk if they hoped to forge a comeback.

The effort was built on fast offensive possessions that picked up threes and a defense that kept Spring's scoring from running out of control. The initial push for the comeback worked as intended, with the Lady Tigers working the lead down to single digits.

Spring turnovers added some steam to the potential comeback train, but the crucial seconds between Conroe makes kept the hopes on a perpetual tightrope.

A change in offensive focus into a slower attack that passed the ball away from pressure helped the Lady Lions in eating the final moments of the clock. Some insurance baskets in the closing moments sealed the Spring victory with a final score of 58-47.

The Bi-District defeat ends Conroe’s season on a sour note, but the goal of returning to the postseason remains the focus for the team come next season.

“I’m excited about the future of Conroe Lady Tiger Basketball,” said an optimistic Houston. “We talked to these kids about appreciating the fact that we accomplished so much so soon because not many people thought we would be in this position.”

The future is bright for Coach Houston and the rest of the Lady Tigers, but their season has unfortunately closed in defeat. Spring’s next matchup will take place against the winner of the Klein Collins and Cypress Falls game as part of the Area round.

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