Girls hoops open in dramatic fashion

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Nikki Cardano-Hillary scored 30 points and sophomore Marley Groat scored 14 points including the game-winning free throw with four seconds left as two-time state tournament qualifier Vista Ridge opened the girls’ varsity basketball season with a dramatic 54-53 win over state-ranked 6A Pflugerville on Friday.

The Rangers led 29-28 at the half and opened a 44-36 lead after the third quarter before the Panthers rallied to tie the game on a Kendall Hodge 3-pointer with nine seconds left in regulation.  Groat took the pass; then calmly hit the winning free throw.

In other action, Cedar Park shocked district 13-6A defending co-champion Westwood 61-60 in overtime.

“My kids played extremely hard and maintained their composure the whole game despite falling behind several times,” Cedar Park head coach Mark Myers said.

The Timberwolves led 8-2 after a quarter and were up 19-13 at the half but Westwood surged in the second half and tied the contest at 53-53 in the waning moments of regulation before the Timberwolves used an 8-7 overtime scoring advantage for the victory.

Nicole Leff led the way with 17 points while Aubrey McCarty had nine and both Shannon Hazard and Alex Maresca scored eight points. Pujita Shukla and Chika Onyia scored seven points apiece while Callie Copeland added three points in the win.

Bee Gonzales and Kallie Roush had 16 points each and Kathryn Scott added 13 points as Vandegrift crushed McNeil 60-30 to open the season. Sophomore Ella Drablos grabbed 12 rebounds and sophomore Autumn Howell had eight assists.

“The effort, energy and passion that our girls played with was a joy to watch,” Vandegrift head coach Jonathon Jones said. “Our upperclassmen did a great job leading, but we also had some key contributions from several young players.”

Tom Glenn opened the season with a 48-35 loss to Austin Crockett.

“It was a good start to a season. We are just trying to build a foundation and work from there,” Grizzlies head coach Jordan Ramey said.

Cyanna Ramirez came off the bench to record a team-high seven points for Glenn while volleyball standout Gabrielle Thomas rebounded and defended well.

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