Gilmer Girls Capitalize On Bullard Turnovers + Hand Lady Panthers Rare Home Loss
BULLARD -- Abby Story's half court buzzer beater to end the first half Tuesday was more than a successful 3-pointer. It was a statement.
That basket helped Bullard take back momentum from a Gilmer team that threatened it yet didn't have the outside shooting to keep pace.
Crazy thing is, that was the Lady Panthers' last basket for 11:56. Their next 27 possessions -- marred by 20 turnovers in the span -- were empty.
The Lady Buckeyes won the game, 37-33, and handed Bullard its first home loss in more than a year and first home district defeat in nine seasons.
Has Gilmer ever held an opponent scoreless for a quarter and then half of the next?
"I doubt it," Lady Buckeyes head coach Mandi Simpson said. "And for sure not Bullard. That was a big lift for our team to hold them to zero in the third quarter. They were breaking our press, but sometimes pressing isn't about getting steals. It's about getting them out of their offense. Just out of their normal sync. That's what we wanted to do."
The cold streak knocked Bullard (19-5, 1-1) out of the early District 16-4A lead. Gilmer (16-6, 2-0) kept on keeping on thanks to an extended 17-5 run through the second half after trailing 28-20 at the break and 16-5 after a quarter.
Junior small forward Belynda Ray recorded 10 of the Lady Buckeyes' 24 steals in the game for an unorthodox double-double paired with a team-best 10 points. The Lady Panthers committed 36 turnovers in total.
Christian Brown and Destiny Brooks also thrived defensively with six and five steals, respectively.
The Lady Buckeyes forfeited 13 possessions in contrast.
Free throws didn't make a difference in this one. Bullard only got three opportunities and converted one.
Laraebion Brewster, a senior shooting guard, scored four straight points to spearhead Gilmer's come-from-behind, 11-0 third quarter. Brown gave the team a permanent lead at the 1:58 mark on her second of two successful 3-pointers.
Bullard got on the board for the first time in the second half with 4:04 to play on Kristen Chamberlain's drive. Five more team turnovers and 1-for-2 shooting from the field helped the road team hang on.
"It's huge for Gilmer because we're still trying to build," Simpson said. "This is a built program here, pretty much. It is huge for our kids just to start believing in themselves and get a big win on the road. It's big for our kids and our program. That is a compliment to Bullard."
So is the amazing nine-year district run. Kilgore has had the Lady Panthers' number in Kilgore, but any home game could and still can be a daunting task for opposing programs.
Bullard enjoys incredible fan support, particularly from its student section. A souped up sound system makes the dead ball periods uncomfortable as well.
"Our home crowds are pretty awesome," Bullard boys head coach Shane Chambless said after an overtime win against Van immediately following the girls game. "Especially when we're paired with the girls. We've got the greatest announcer in East Texas and it's just an awesome home crowd. It's a big advantage when we get to play here."
The crowd had a lot going for it early.
Hannah Lloyd knocked down four 3-pointers in the first quarter to help build a 16-5 advantage. Perimeter shooting freed up forward and senior Abilene Christian signee Lexi Kirgan underneath for three first half baskets capped with 4:31 left.
Then Bullard went back up top for a long two-point score from Kristen Chamberlain. The next possession ended with a Lauren Zachary trey for a 25-13 lead with about a minute left.
Gilmer went on a 5-0 run inside the final minute of the half. Storey's 3-ball at the buzzer killed that momentum opportunity.
By the end of the game, however, Lloyd's four 3-pointers in the first quarter made her the leading scorer. She finished with 12 points.
Bullard will travel to Spring Hill on Friday before getting the opportunity to start a new home court streak against Chapel Hill next week.
The Lady Buckeyes host Chapel Hill in their next game.
"We feel good," Simpson said. "But we're already looking ahead to Chapel Hill on Friday."
Gilmer 37, Bullard 33
At Bullard High School
Gilmer 5 15 11 6 -- 37
Bullard 16 12 0 5 -- 33
GILMER (16-6, 2-0) -- Belynda Ray 10, Laraebion Brewster 8, Destiny Brooks 7, Christian Brown 6, Augusta Hampton 2, Ashlyn Ray 2, Megan Smith 2.
BULLARD (19-5, 1-1) -- Hannah Lloyd 12, Lexi Kirgan 8, Kristen Chamberlain 4, Lauren Zachry 4, Abby Story 3, Sydney Foster 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Gilmer: Brooks (2), Brown. Bullard: Lloyd (4), Story, Zachry.