Buffalo Girls Run Down Mount Vernon For 3A Title Appearance
SAN ANTONIO -- It didn't matter that Mount Vernon had led by as many as 12 points. It didn't matter that Buffalo had only been up by one point leading up to crunch time in Thursday's Class 3A state semifinal game at the Alamodome.
What mattered was the contest was tied at the start of the fourth quarter. Buffalo capitalized for a 50-43 win and a berth into Saturday's 3A state championship game in San Antonio.
"We came down here with the plans of hopefully winning a couple of games," Lady Tigers coach Brad Floyd said. "But just being down here is a special opportunity for these kids. I know they're sad right now, but hopefully they'll be able to reflect on this and know that it's an opportunity most kids don't get.
"We graduate one senior, great kid and great player, MyShaila Stanton, but the kids we've got coming back we think are pretty good. We've got some young ones coming up we think are pretty good. It's, you know, been a long time coming."
Mount Vernon (32-6) cracked the state tournament level for the first time in Floyd's 19-year career, and the program had made the regional level five times in the past. It was truly the breakout team.
But that was little consolation for the Lady Tigers players in the game's immediate aftermath.
At the state level of competition, the University Interscholastic League asks the head coach and a few player representatives on both sides of the outcome to field questions from the media in a press conference environment.
Mount Vernon had no player representatives.
The state semifinal game didn't simply come down to the fourth quarter. It came down to the final 3:24, at which point Buffalo guard Jordan Jenkins drove the lane for the final lead change.
Trailing 45-43, the Lady Tigers turned the ball over and fouled Buffalo (28-4) in transition. Samantha Pate connected on one of two free throw attempts for a three-point lead with 2:47 to play.
Mount Vernon turned the ball over once again, got the rebound on the defensive end of the floor and then missed a layup.
Buffalo, realizing the Lady Tigers had three fouls to give before putting it at the line, slowed its offense down and effectively burned the clock from 2:08 to 37 seconds through three fouls and three timeouts.
Rylee Keys finally put Buffalo in the bonus with a foul at the 36-second mark and Jenkins got both of her free throw attempts to fall.
Mount Vernon missed a 3-pointer, the last attempt of a 5-for-25 day behind the arc, and was finished after two more Buffalo free throws.
Buffalo made 8 of 9 shots from the line whereas Floyd's squad only got six attempts.
Jenkins and her teammates clawed back from a 35-23 deficit at the 6:15 mark of the third quarter with a 14-2 run through the next four minutes to tie.
The Lady Tigers sensed the momentum shifting in the midst of the run and missed a 3-point shot as well as two other shots from outside the lane that generally suck the life out of such runs before falling into the tie.
Down 41-39 in the fourth quarter, a quick 3-point attempt rimmed out.
Tied 43-43, another shot from range hit the backboard and set up Jenkins' go-ahead layup 11 seconds later.
"I don't think we necessarily took bad shots," Floyd said. "I think there were a couple of times where we took a shot, that if you had looked at it in a freeze frame, there were situations where we had other players that might have had a better look. Without calling out your kids, because we had an awesome season, there were a couple of kids that didn't shoot as well as they normally would. We made five 3-pointers and we probably average eight, nine, 10 per game."
Mount Vernon appeared set to face Canadian in the title game with a 27-23 halftime lead and the first eight points of the second half. Sophomore guard Samantha Lowry hit 21 points for the game in the early second-half run and finished with a team-best 23.
But Jenkins, who had 400 percent more points than any teammates with 16 at halftime, finished with 28 while freshman forward Mollie Dittmar jumped from four at the break to 12.
Lady Tigers post Alissa Hill's 15 points rounded out all scorers in double digits. Mount Vernon's remaining roster chipped in five points.
"We wanted to take the next step and this is the next step," Floyd said. "It would have been nice to be playing on Saturday. It's tough to swallow right now, but I'm very proud of the team and the community."
No. 23 Buffalo 50, No. 6 Mount Vernon 43
Class 3A State Semifinal Playoff Game
At The Alamodome, San Antonio
Mount Vernon 13 14 10 6 -- 43
Buffalo 10 13 14 13 -- 50
Mount Vernon (32-6) -- Samantha Lowry 23, Alissa Hill 15, Annie Coffey 3, Riley Hughes 2.
Buffalo (28-4) -- Jordan Jenkins 28, Mollie Dittmar 12, Samantha Pate 6, Hannah Eakin 2, Kayleigh Rhodes 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Mount Vernon: Lowry (5). Buffalo: Jenkins, Pate.