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Varsity Girls Basketball Competes in Leander Rouse Tip-Off Classic Tournament

By Kimberly Davis, 11/14/22, 11:15PM CST

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The Varsity Girls Basketball Team went to Leander, TX last week to compete in the Leander Rouse Tip-Off Classic.

vs. Lago Vista Vikings

Game one on Thursday saw the Spartans jump all over the Lago Vista Vikings from the start. Sophomore Aria Taylor nailed a three-pointer from the right wing. Senior Lilah Epps used a steal and fast break to feed Junior Kendall Zoboroski. Sophomore forward Kendall Davis grabbed a defensive rebound, drove the length of the floor and fed Senior guard JaKyla Cheeves with the give and go, resulting in a Davis basket to go up 9-1. Sophomore Bella Perroni got the ball in the paint and passed to out Taylor for another trey. Junior Ella Pezzia snared a loose ball and passed to Cheeves for the score to go up 22-8 late in the second quarter. Davis's defensive presence loomed large as she delivered a block, then passed to Cheeves for another fast-break score. Perroni to Epps made it 30-10. Pezzia delivered an impressive performance with rebounds, assists, steals and defensive stops. Sophomore guard Ella O'Connor drove the left side of the lane and scored with her left hand (she's right-handed), which is always cool. Final was 45-24. Cheeves finished with 18 points. Davis had nine points and seven rebounds.

vs. Rouse

Thursday's game two saw the Spartans play the home team, Rouse. Senior forward Maggie Parker started the action with a three pointer. From there they fell behind 6-13 before Cheeves scored a basket. Davis made a sweet move in the post for two. Cheeves dissed to Taylor for two. Taylor returned the favor to Davis for a deuce, and it was 14-13 Spartans. Junior post Evynn Stallwitz scored off a pass from Cheeves to tie the game at 22 apiece. Davis gave great help-side defense, sliding off her assignment to stop a likely score by Rouse and Junior guard Ryen Greenwood rewarded the effort with a three on the other end to make it 25-22. The inbounds play was kind to the Spartans in Leander as Greenwood hit Davis in stride for another basket. Taylor found Davis on a fast break for two. Davis found Perroni and the score stood at 33-29 with 1:15 in the third quarter. Cheeves continued the out-of-bounds-play magic to help Davis score. Parker knocked down her second three-pointer off a pass from Zoboroski. Davis owned the boards at times, grabbing a missed trey attempt from Parker and putting it in. Cheeves knocked down three of four free throws and the Spartans iced Rouse, 48-39. Davis had a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Cheeves had 12 points. Parker had six points and seven rebounds.

vs. Pflugerville Connally

The good times kept rolling in game three as Stratford took it to Pflugerville Connally, named for Texas Governor John Connally (1963-1969). Tenacious Davis set the tone after receiving the ball from Cheeves and getting blocked, but she kept rebounding her own shot before getting fouled and converting one of two free-throws. There was one problem early on, the Cougars' #14 was nailing nothing-but-nut threes like Steph Curry was her dad and it was Spartans 10, Miss Curry 9 at the end of Q1. The Kendall & Kendall show then began in earnest as Zoboroski scored on two three-pointers from the left corner, then fed Cheeves for back-to-back scores and the lead was 19-12. The Spartans defense began keeping #14 at bay. Epps passed to Perroni back to Epps for a score to end the half at 24-15. Greenwood stuck to #14 for much of the rest of the game and while two more 3's were made, #14 wasn't a danger any longer. Parker fed Cheeves for a three to kick off the third quarter. In a broken play, Davis alertly grabbed the ball and hit Cheeves for a three. Epps briefly took the role of Tom Brady with an out-of-bounds pass to Davis for two. Then Epps passed to Cheeves off the out-of-bands for two. Shortly after an Epps out-of-bounds relay to Davis for three at the buzzer made it 41-18 to end the third. O'Connor gave her mother a birthday present late in the fourth with a sweet shoot and score to make the final 43-18. Cheeves led the scoring with 13. Taylor had nine points.

vs. Round Rock

The first three games saw the best of the Spartans with good ball movement, passes to teammates in scoring positions and attacks on the boards, especially Davis and Taylor. Storms rolled through the region between games on Friday and when the Spartans returned to the court for game four vs. Round Rock, it became a Dark & Stormy Night. The Austin honeymoon ended as the Spartans had no answer for the size and speed they encountered, bowing out 15-84. Epps was the leading scorer with four points. Zoboroski grabbed six rebounds.

vs. Hutto Hippos

One thing that stood out in the first three games was the difference in how the games were officiated in Austin vs. Houston. It was much more genteel in the rolling hills of Leander than the unforgiving concrete playgrounds of Houston. The tournament was less physical and minor fouls were called more often. That would become magnified on Saturday in the third-place game. It got weird. Austin Kept It Weird. Facing the Lady Hippos of Hutto. Weird.

With a 10:15 a.m. tip-off, Greenwood got the fast-break going early vs. the Lady Hippos, finding Cheeves for the first Spartans basket. Cheeves followed by converting another fast-break with a score plus one to make it 5-6, Hippos. Zoboroski nailed a three from the left wing to knot it at 8-8. Taylor hit a three near the top of the key, then added a free throw shortly after to tie the game at 12-12 with six minutes remaining in the second quarter. An Epps steal and feed to Cheeves who relayed to Taylor for a trey made it 15-12, Spartans. Cheeves found Perroni for a trey, and it was 20-18. But something was happening. The three officials called phantom fouls. Often there appeared to be little to no contact before the whistles blew. They called walks when the players appeared to be simply pivoting or beginning to legally start their dribble. The calls happened to both teams, but the turning of the tide was the ability of Hutto to get to the basket and shoot more frequently, where inevitably a foul was called. Hutto shot 37 free throws vs. 16 for Stratford in the game.

Hippos kill a reported 500 humans each year. And they were lethal at the free throw line, making 25 of them...over half their points! The Spartans weren't nearly as effective from the line. Hutto reeled off seven points before the bleeding was staunched with Epps finding Davis for a layup to end the half. Hutto came out and swiftly put in eight straight points to go up by 11. The Spartans found some rhythm. Cheeves to Davis for two. Epps to Cheeves for two. 26-34, Hippos. Zoboroski converted a three and next time down the court got the offensive rebound and put it back to make the score 31-39, Hippos. Pezzia scored, then assisted to Davis for a three on the following series, 34-42. Davis made two free-throws to cut the lead to seven with less than a minute remaining. But any rally by the Spartans was interspersed with Hippos nailing free throws. The final was 40-49. Cheeves and Davis each scored 11 and Davis added 12 rebounds. Zoboroski had eight points, and Taylor had seven points and five rebounds. Cheeves was named to the All-Tournament Team!

The Spartans play two home games this week - Tuesday vs. Fort Bend Austin and Friday vs. Cy Falls.