It's now time for some high school playoff basketball! I love the last few weeks of February because this is a run-n-gun time for us here at the Standard-Times. Not only is the San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo about to kick off, but all of our local and area boys and girls basketball teams will be trying to make a run to the state basketball tournament in Austin. First up, the girls teams from Sonora and Ballinger go head-to-head in a Class 2A bi-district game at Central High School in San Angelo.
It was an incredibly electric scene as the fans from both schools began filling the stands. The Ballinger student section was especially rambunctious, even dressing up is various costumes to get the crowd fired up. Sonora was coming into the game with a record of 27-4 while Ballinger was touting a 16-13 record.
Right from the start you could tell it was going to be a fast-paced, high octane game. Ballinger came out like gangbusters and for the first three quarters of play, looked like they were going to pull an upset over the 11th-ranked Sonora Lady Broncos. Ballinger is fast, scrappy and fearless, putting Sonora on their heels and looking for a way to stop the onslaught of scoring. But Sonora, under the direction of head coach Rich Dozier and led by senior Kylie Love and junior Gracie Dozier in scoring, were equal to the task helping Sonora stay within reach of the game. Ballinger led the game at the half by a mere four points at the half 30-26.
Sonora was going to have to keep pressure on Ballinger in order to pull out the win. "We knew we had to play our game," Gracie Dozier said in a quote from sports reporter Charles Bryce's game story. "We were down for most of the game, but we just know how to come together in the end, and we know how to run our plays." Ballinger led 40-34 heading into the fourth quarter, but with heads up play from Love and Dozier and a few lucky calls from game officials, Sonora went on a 7-0 run to start the final quarter to go up 41-40 and never trailed again. "We had respect for Ballinger before the game, and we have respect for Ballinger after the game," Sonora head coach Rich Dozier said. "But our philosophy is to run 'em and run 'em and run 'em, and at some point we're going to get that break."
Sonora's Love and Dozier combined to score 22 of 29 points for the Lady Broncos in the fourth and the defense stepped up to contain Ballinger post Chelsea Toliver who finished the game with 14 points. Sonora came out on top winning 63-57 advancing to the area playoff round to battle Breckenridge for the title. After the game Ballinger head coach Michael Barnes said, "For the first three quarters, our full-court press was good. But in the fourth they put up 29 points. All the credit goes to Sonora. Their experience took over, where we lacked it."