Nazareth Knocks Out Slocum For 24th State Championship Game Appearance
SAN ANTONIO -- Slocum's season ended Thursday in the Class A state semifinals before 2,781 fans and a few pigeons that call the cavernous Alamodome home.
Its game against Nazareth wasn't close but for a few minutes, a 63-31 final score, and the Lady Mustangs had some time to digest the fact there would be no state championship game.
There weren't any tears afterward. Just respect for a Nazareth program that officially made its 26th state tournament appearance, has now reached a 24th state championship game and will be gunning for state title No. 21 since 1979 on Saturday.
"Look where we are," junior guard Briley Evers said. "This is where we wanted to end our season. Maybe a game early, but we're proud of what we accomplished."
Slocum (25-10), which made its second-ever state tournament appearance, managed to rally back from a 10-2 deficit in the first quarter for a 12-12 tie. That teed it up to give up a 19-3 run Nazareth (34-1) rode to a 33-23 halftime lead.
Nazareth held the Lady Mustangs to eight second-half points -- which wasn't all that close to its season-best -- and would have won without scoring a single point in the third or fourth quarters.
The rightened ship at 12-12 started to take water again when Nazareth recorded three consecutive steals for six points by utilizing a full court press. Allie Schulte, a 5-foot-10 guard and the tallest player in the game, had one of the steals in that span toward a staggering nine in the contest.
Slocum ended up turning the ball over 14 times in the first half, which Nazareth converted into 18 points. Only four of those turnovers were unforced.
Nazareth owned a largest lead of 31-15 in the half before the Lady Mustangs went on a 5-2 counter over the final 2:23 of the frame.
The ship was sunk when Slocum followed up 60 percent shooting from the field in the first half with a 2-for-15 performance in the second half. Nazareth shot 57 percent in the game's final 16 minutes.
Schulte scored a team second-best 15 points for Nazareth in addition to her nine steals. She added a block on the defensive side of the equation.
"I thought it was her defense that really got them going," Slocum coach Dustin Bates said. "They didn't really start off that sharp offensively. I thought we did pretty good defensively holding them to 12 points in the first quarter. Then she shot up and took a couple of passing lanes away. We've been trapping point guards that are 5-2 or 5-3. We try to trap her and she just stands there and looks above it."
Cambrie Heiman led Nazareth with 17 points and Ellen Schilderink was a third player on the winning side to hit double-digit scoring.
Evers and Jessi Ives tied for Slocum's team lead in points with seven apiece.
Nazareth advanced to face Dodd City for the championship. That game will be played at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in the Alamodome.
A rematch between the Lady Mustangs and Nazareth next season isn't out of the question.
Slocum will return four starters from its state semifinalist team.
Nazareth is Nazareth.
No. 1 Nazareth 63, No. 17 Slocum 31
Class A State Semifinal Playoff Game
At The Alamodome, San Antonio
Slocum 12 11 5 3 -- 31
Nazareth 14 19 12 18 -- 63
Slocum (25-10) -- Briley Evers 7, Jessi Ives 7, Makayla Bickerstaff 6, Taylor Clark 6, Shlby Bowman 3, Cheyenne Nunley 2.
Nazareth (34-1) -- Cambrie Heiman 17, Allie Schulte 15, Ellen Schilderink 10, Kinzi Cleavinger 8, Blakely Gerber 8, Abby Schmucker 3, Laci Backus 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Slocum: Evers (2), Bickerstaff, Bowman. Nazareth: Heiman (3), Gerber, Schulte.