As the final seconds ticked down in Saltillo’s Class A Divsion II Region III championship win over Coolidge last Saturday night, naturally head coach Garry Davison reflected.

After all, he’d seen his girls walk off the court with tears in their eyes the last two years in the regional final, one game short of the state tournament.

"It'd been such a battle, we'd been in the same situation the last three years and it hadn't ended the way we wanted it to,” Davison said. “Now we lost to a very, very good team the last two years, but that didn't ease the pain any. It was good to be on the other side for once."

And now, instead of being spectators, the top-ranked Saltillo Lady Lions are participants in this weekend’s UIL Girls State Basketball Tournament in Austin. Saltillo (31-5) faces Roscoe Highland (31-4) at 1:30 p.m. Friday in one 1A D-II semifinal.

It might be just the second state tournament appearance for Saltillo, but the Lady Lions are not altogether unfamiliar with greatness. They’ve had up-close-and-personal experiences with the winner of the last three 1A D-II titles -- Neches, which eliminated Saltillo from the postseason the previous three years.

Neches, however, moved up to Division I during realignment last February.

"I think with Neches' graduation, I would've liked to gave gone through them again,” Davison said jokingly. “I owe (Neches coach Andy Snider) a couple. He's knocked me out of the playoffs the last three years, so he owes me three. And I don't forget about that, I don't care what Division he's in."

Even with Neches out of the picture, Saltillo found itself down in the third quarter to Coolidge last Saturday. It seemed as if a trip to Austin was not meant to be.

"I think it was more than satisfying,” Davison said. “I thought our kids responded the other night from being down 9 or 10 points in the third quarter. But from that point on, we pretty much dominated the game. You could really see the kids really wanted it."

SALTILLO LADY LIONS

Head coach: Garry Davison
2012-13 record: 31-5

Starting lineup

  • G Kendall Bain, 5-7, Jr.
  • G Karli Brewer, 5-7, Sr.
  • G Ariel Tippit, 5-10, Sr.
  • P Victoria Stretcher, 6-1, Sr.
  • P Andrea Tippit, 5-10, Sr.

 

Road to Austin

  • Area: def. Nocona Prairie Valley, 55-23
  • Regional quarterfinals: def. Campbell, 51-23
  • Regional semifinals: def. Strawn, 45-27
  • Regional championship: def. Coolidge, 54-42