Vandegrift’s historic season ends in first round

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The Vandegrift girls’ basketball team’s historic season came to an end sooner that they had hoped.

After losing one game the entire district season and winning a co-district title for the first time in school history, the Lady Vipers fell to San Antonio Lee 73-58 Monday night at Marble Falls High School in the first round of the playoffs. 

“The girls have done a great job this year,” Vandegrift head coach Jonathan Jones said. “The way that they fought, they’ve showed why they’re in the position.” 

The Vipers have had quite the turnaround in the past two seasons, winning just two district games two years ago and finishing just a spot out of playoff position at 6-8 last season. The lone loss of this district season was on the road at back-to-back state tournament winner Vista Ridge.

This year’s team has built a foundation for seasons to come at Vandegrift, too. The junior varsity team finished 26-4 and the freshman squad went 29-1 on the year. 

“The senior class has been through a lot,” Jones said. “They’re one of the main reasons I took this job. Setting multiple records this year, it’s setting the standard for the younger kids. We’re about winning and it was because of the senior class.”

Loren and Natalie Goddard, Kathryn Scott, Kallie Roush and leading scorer Madison Byrne all played their last game for the Lady Vipers on Monday night. 

In other playoff action on Monday, Cedar Park saw its season come to an end after a 44-40 loss to Magnolia at Schulenberg High School. The Lady Timberwolves scored 18 points in the third quarter, but were held to just four points in the final period. 

Rouse took on Tomball Tuesday night at Hearne High School and Vista Ridge, looking to make a deep run in the playoffs for the third straight year, faced off with San Antonio MacArthur at New Braunfels High School. 

At this point, hanging district banners has become second nature for the Lady Rangers. They’ve won at least a share of the district title in each of the past three seasons and have lost one district game in that span. 

“It’s been great being able to improve and seeing all the people I looked up to move on,” Vista Ridge guard Nikki Cardano-Hillary said. “I feel like if you want to get a good seed you have to do well in district. You want to get first and it’s definitely competitive.”

Cardano-Hillary and Katie McKie have led Vista Ridge this season, and both will continue their basketball careers at the next level. Cardano-Hillary, who scored more than 1,500 points in her four years with the Lady Rangers, is attending George Mason while McKie is headed to UMass-Lowell.

While a few individuals have helped carry them to the playoffs, they all know it’ll be a team effort if they want to make it back to the state tournament. 

“For us it’s about getting better,” Vista Ridge head coach Keith Allen said. “It’s great we won a co-district championship, but we’re all about improving. I’m proud of these kids and that they’ve found a way to win.”

 

 

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