Pearland moves past Atascocita 45-31

PEARLAND — When teams face one another in the post-season, there are always those who predict the team who is favored to win. In the case of Pearland versus Atascocita, some thought the No. 14 ranked Lady Eagles would defeat the Lady Oilers.

What the polls don't measure is the heart and intensity of a team on any give occasion. In the case of the Lady Oilers -- head coach Lauren Martens saw her girls step up their game and eliminate Atascocita 45-31 in the area round of the Class 6A Region III playoffs. Pearland (24-10) advances to the region quarterfinals for the third straight year.

“It’s do or die time,” said Martens. “We talked about everyone's records and ranking and wiped them away. We just go play game by game. Atascocita is a great matchup for us because we’re both alike. We have the post position and guards that are quick and can knock down shots.”

The game was only close in the first half of the opening period as Pearland began the game with a 5-0 run and then allowed Atascocita to go on a 6-0 run for a 6-5 lead.

That would be the only lead for the Lady Eagles as the Lady Oilers closed out the period with a 7-0 run and a 12-6 first quarter advantage.

Pearland's De Yona Gaston and Aryelle Stevens were the pace-setters on offense with Gaston dropping in seven points and Stevens tossing in five points including a 3-pointer at the close of the period.

The intensity of the Pearland defense increased in the second quarter as the Lady Eagles scored only five points while the Lady Oilers saw Gaston score all seven of their points giving Pearland a 19-11 halftime lead.

Once again, Atascocita was held to only two field goals and a free throw in the third while Pearland knocked down 10 points including a pair of clutch 3-pointers by senior guard Kyah Barlow to increase the Lady O's lead to 29-16 heading into the final frame.

Both teams got their highest scoring output down the stretch in the fourth quarter with Pearland outscoring Atascocita 16-15.

Pearland was solid at the free throw line hitting 10-of-13 pressure-packed free throws led by Barlow who nailed 6-of-6.

Atascocita was 5-of-12 from the charity stripe in the final period as Pearland posted the 45-31 playoff victory.

“We were able to get some easy baskets and take control of the game," Martens said. "Aryelle (Stevens) stepped up big for us and had a great game as a sophomore. For her to show up in a big game like this is huge.”

Gaston was the game's top scorer with 19 points while Stevens added 12 points.

Pearland will look to continue its post-season success on Monday against Clear Springs at Deer Park HS at 6:00 p.m.

“We’re excited and pumped up right now,” Martens said. “We will celebrate this win but we’re going to take it game by game just like we have been doing all season. It’s great to be back at the regional tournament, but there’s still work to be done.”