Lady Oilers win 6A Region III crown to advance to state

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TOP SCORER - Pearland senior Rylee Grays (22) drives to the basket to score two of her game-high 16 points while also getting 15 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 blocked shots in the 39-26 win over Summer Creek.

The win punched Pearland's ticket to the 6A state basketball tournament in San Antonio at the Alamodome on Friday, March 3 at 8:30 p.m. (Photo by Michelle Robinett)

Last year at this time, the Pearland Lady Oilers walked dejectedly off the basketball court in the 6A Region III finals after losing to the Summer Creek Lady Bulldogs 59-42 in the region final which sent Summer Creek to the state basketball tournament.

Second-year Pearland head coach Jere' Adams marked that day as the time to prepare for this year with the vision to avenge that loss and give the Lady Oilers an opportunity to capture the 6A Region III crown and advance to the state basketball tournament.

Adams said last year, ""I feel like it was a special group, and the sky was the limit," Adams said. "I was just trying to get to the next day as a first-year head coach. I'm not surprised to be here — I want to make that clear. Our girls deserved it and worked hard to get here."

The Lady Oilers carried that work ethic over to this year and the result was an outright District 23-6A championship and now a Region III crown while punching their ticket to the 6A state basketball tournament in San Antonio on Friday, March 3 at 8:30 p.m.

One of the strengths for Pearland this season is their pressing, suffocating defense that produces turnovers or allows opposing teams just one shot on each offensive possession.

Pearland allowed on average 31.4 points per game against five playoff teams which included a single basket by Clear Springs in all of the second half of the bi-district round contest. The Lady Oilers blanked the Lady Chargers in the third quarter 13-0.

That same defensive pressure was evident against Summer Creek as the Lady Oilers outscored the Lady Bulldogs 10-7 in the opening frame.

Both teams were trying to shake early jitters in the first eight minutes.

The second quarter saw Summer Creek manage only three field goals while Pearland's RyLee Grays tossed in two baskets as the only points for the Lady O's leaving Pearland with an anemic 14-13 advantage at intermission.

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DRIVING TO THE BASKET - Pearland senior Paige Bonner (4) takes a shot on goal against Summer Creek. Bonner hit four clutch free throws in the fourth quarter as the Lady Oilers beat the Lady Bulldogs 39-26 in the Class 6A Region III title game. (Photo by Michelle Robinett)

The game took a turn in favor of Pearland in the third quarter as Grays began to find her range while Summer Creek continued to struggle against the defensive pressure by the Lady Oilers.

Grays hit three close baskets and was 4-of-5 from the charity stripe giving her 10-of-the-17 third quarter points for Pearland. Nyah Hardy scored five points and Janae Tucker was 2-for-2 from the free throw line as the Lady Oilers took a 31-18 lead into the final frame.

The teams closed out the contest with eight points each as Pearland scored a single basket but was clutch at the free throw line hitting 6-of-9 free throws.

Summer Creek had three baskets and was 2-for-5 at the line. The Lady Bulldogs were 3-of-9 from the free throw line for the game.

On the other hand, Pearland took advantage of the charity stripe as they hit 17-of-22 which would make an impact on the outcome of the game.

They say offense wins games, but free throws win championships and that certainly played a factor in the win for Pearland.

In the case for the Lady Oilers, a strong and aggressive defense inside the perimeter, strong rebounding, and an unselfish offense led by a strong presence by Grays makes Pearland a complete team that is headed to the state basketball tournament.

Grays scored 16 points while Janae Tucker tossed in 12 points. Hardy chipped in seven points while Paige Bonner was 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the fourth period.

Tucker, Hardy, Bonner, and La'Niah Thornton played strong roles in the outcome of the contest.

Region III Semifinals, Pearland 57 - Katy 30

Pearland completely dominated a Katy team that entered the region semifinals with a 3 2-3 record.

The Lady Oilers used a suffocating defense against the Lady Tigers who had no answer for the defensive pressure while the Pearland offense scored consistently in each period.

Pearland opened up the game 12-9 in the first quarter and then the defense completely blanked Katy while the offense went on a 13-0 run for a 25-9 lead at halftime.

Katy scored the most points in the third quarter with 13 but it wasn't enough to top the Lady Oilers who fired in 16 for a 41-22 lead.

Pearland double the Katy scoring in the final frame 16-8 to post the final 57-30.

Leading scorer for Pearland was Paige Bonner (4 boards, 3 assists, 4 steals) who tossed in 16 while Janae Tucker (4 assists, 4 steals) and RyLee Grays (10 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block) each pumped in 14.

The Lady Oilers hit 15-of-20 free throws.