Rouse girls’ basketball head coach Lori McDonald likes to think this season was only the tip of the iceberg for the Lady Raiders.
They made it to the regional tournament for the first time in school history before falling to No. 4 Barbers Hill 56-36, despite trailing by just three points after three quarters Friday night at the Delmar Fieldhouse in Houston.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” McDonald said. “At the beginning of the year, there were a lot of questions as to what we could do. We scheduled some big 6A schools early on to prepare us for a game like this. The girls have played so well and they’ve really come together as a team.”
Zoe Holmes scored 10 points and had six rebounds for Rouse and Chloe Austin had nine points and seven rebounds. The Lady Raiders played without leading scorer and rebounder Jennifer Parker, who suffered an injury in the round three win over College Station.
The main focus of the game was 6-foot-4 forward Charlie Collier, who as a junior is already committed to play at UConn. They held her to two points and she spent most oft he first half on the bench with foul trouble.
Holmes scored four straight points and Rouse took its first lead of the game with under a minute left in the third quarter. But the Lady Eagles finished the period on a 5-0 run and scored 27 of the final 32 points, including a 19-2 run to end the game to pull out the win.
“With our game plan and having tow work so hard to stop Collier, our girls go exhausted,” McDonald said. “They got tired there in the fourth quarter and we were missing one of our starters. We had to completely change our game plan in the last two days.”
Vandegrift won a share of the district title for the first time in school history but was upset by San Antonio Lee 73-58 in the first round. And Cedar Park, under first-year head coach Jennifer Smith, also dropped its opening round game 44-40 to Magnolia.
Vista Ridge has won at least a share of of a district title in three straight seasons and was looking to get back to the state tournament for the third straight year. Despite a fourth quarter comeback, the Lady Rangers fell to Converse Judson 70-65 in the second round.
But for Rouse, the turnaround in the last few seasons has been dramatic. The Lady Raiders won just one district game two years ago and finished in a tie for fifth place in district play last year.
“The growth that I’ve seen in the girls, not on the basketball court but as people, has been huge,” McDonald said. “I’m super proud of how they stepped up. It’s heartbreaking to lose that way, but it’s a great season to celebrate.”