Lady Oilers capture first district title in 26 years

PEARLAND — She has only been at the helm of the Pearland Lady Oilers basketball program for two years, but head coach Lauren Martens has seen her girls do something this season that no other team has done in 26 year.

And that is to be crowed district champions!

The last time that the Lady Oilers could make that claim was back in 1991.

Pearland faced their cross-town cousins, the Dawson Lady Eagles, who are fighting for a place in the post-season.

The Lady Eagles were hoping to get a strong start, but the Lady Oilers triple-dose of sophomore Macey Braswell, freshman Deyona Gaston, and senior Ravae Payne were too much for Dawson.

"It's hard to guard Deyona in the lane, and if they pack it in we have two kids that can light it up from outside," Martens said.

Dawson head coach Isabel Gomez understands the problems that those three players can create.

"Pearland's a different team now that they have Deyona back," Gomez said. "We collapsed inside on her, and we knew she would kick it out.

"They just made everything they shot, it seemed. We tried changing up to man in the second half, but they just have a lot of offensive weapons. I'm happy for Lauren and Pearland. They did a good job."

The Pearland trio opened the game with a 12-1 that eventually turned into a 17-4 lead after the first eight minutes of action.

Braswell had a pair of 3-point bombs while Payne hit one as part of the lopsided first quarter.

The scrappy Lady Eagles weren't going down without a fight as they battled back with Pearland edging them in the second quarter 18-16 for a 35-20 lead at intermission.

Gaston scored eight points in the frame while Payne and Braswell combined to launch three more 3-pointers that found the mark.

Pearland doubled up Dawson 18-9 in the third quarter for a 53-29 advantage entering the final period.

"I told our players to just keep fighting," Gomez said. "It works in your favor if you continue to fight because you'll have to do that in the playoffs. You can't let up even though you're down."

Martens was excited to learn that the Lady Oilers had captured a district title after so many years.

"The girls have worked hard and have been resilient and relentless," Martens said. "It is my first district title (as a head coach) and this team deserves it more than any team I've been a part of.

"We'll just keep pushing. We're not done yet."

Braswell finished as the game-high scorer with 24 points including 5-of-6 three-pointers while Gaston added 21 and 11 rebounds while Payne tossed in 15 with 3-for-5 treys.