Lady Jackets upset Lady Oilers 49-42

PEARLAND — One thing that happens when the basketball playoffs begin is that teams are seeded according to the way they finished in the district standings.

The Pearland Lady Oilers (23-13) entered the post-season as the No. 1 seed after winning the District 23-6A title for the second straight year with an 11-1 record. After a 1-9 start to the season with early injuries, Pearland turned things around to go 22-4 the rest of the way.

The Alvin Lady Yellowjackets (26-10) finished as the No. 4 seed after placing fourth in the strong District 24-6A at 8-6.

But when the playoffs begin, both teams enter with a 0-0 mark and as Pearland found out, you can never take your opponent lightly.

The biggest objective for Alvin coach Justin Walker is setting up a strong defense against 6-3 post sophomore De'Yona Gaston on the inside and outside sharpshooter junior Macey Braswell -- the two leading scorers for the Lady Oilers.

"You don't stop De'Yona Gaston," Walker said. "We just tried to make it difficult for her in spots. We wanted to make sure she saw 2-3 people from Alvin every time she got the ball.

"And we also wanted to make it hard for Macey. My girls are very experienced. They've been with me since their freshman and sophomore years, so they know how to execute a game plan.

"Once we started hitting a few shots and got some energy to spark us, we were able to set our defensive game plan in the half-court."

It appeared that the Lady Oilers would run away with the game as they scored eight unanswered points for an 8-0 lead on two baskets by Jocelyn Thompson, two free throws from De'Yona Gaston and two free throws from Madison Gissendanner.

But the Lady Jackets battled back hitting four 3-pointers to send a message that this is just the beginning of the long-range assault on offense.

Those long missiles closed the gap to 13-12 after the first quarter with Pearland ahead.

Alvin's defense kicked in in the second quarter as Pearland was limited to a single basket and 3-for-6 from the free throw line for only five points.

With less than five minutes to go in the half, Alvin took a 17-16 lead and then outscored the Lady O's 8-2 for a 24-18 lead at intermission that included a 40-foot buzzer beater by Adreea Mancha who scored a game-high 20 points.

The second half was more of the same as frustration began to set in for the Lady Oilers their shots continued to roll around the cylinder while Alvin seemed to hit everything they tossed up at the goal.

Pearland was only 2-of-8 from the charity stripe in the third with only three baskets -- two by Gaston and one by Braswell for eight points.

Meanwhile, Alvin stretched the lead with 11 points included two more missiles in the third for a 35-26 lead.

"Alvin loves that 3-point line," Pearland coach Lauren Martens said, "and they have more than one kid that can hit them. They just did a great job. This time of year, when it's do-or-die, you have to do the little things right and we didn't do that.

"Alvin did a good job sharing the basketball and doing all the little things right that win games," Martens said. "When it got to be a close game, we got out of sync, and then we started forcing shots.

"When we did that, we gave Alvin the ball back and gave them a chance to score. We also gave up a ton of offensive rebounds."

Pearland took the final frame 16-14, but couldn't get any closer as they were cold at the free throw line (10-of-22) for the game while Alvin was 13-of-18 from the line.

The Lady Oilers top two scorers were limited by Alvin's suffocating defense as Braswell was limited to one 3-pointer with less than a minute left in the game to post only nine points while Gaston scored 11, but was off at the charity stripe (4-of-12).

The post-season victory for Alvin was its first since 2007.

"We came from a situation where there was not much winning the last few years," Walker said. "This is huge for our program, and I'm just happy for the girls because they work their tails off every single day.

"This is probably the best win I've had so far just because we finally got one in the playoffs, but I'm more proud of what the girls did against a good team."