A cold-shooting second half proved to be fatal for the Ryan Cowgirls in the first round of the Class A Regional Tournament at Central High last Thursday.
The Cowgirls, after taking a commanding lead at the half, fell to the Lady Blue Devils, 41-36, to end the 2018 season.
The Cowgirls finish the season with an 8-16 mark – the most wins and the fewest losses since the 2014 season.
Ringling got the first bucket of the game as Presley snared an offensive rebound and scored giving the Lady Devils a 2-0 lead.
That was the last lead for Ringling until late in the third quarter.
After the initial basket by Ringling, the Cowgirls went on a 10-1 run and led after the first quarter, 10-3.
The Cowgirls got their biggest lead of the game as Lily York hit a short jumper with 7:34 to play in the second quarter putting the Cowgirls in front, 12-3.
Two free throws by Juliet Spangler gave Ryan another nine point lead with 3:12 left in the half, but Ringling was able to cut the lead to 15-9 on Rayme Tolliver’s free throw with 46 seconds left in the half.
Kenzie Lewis, playing in her last game for the Cowgirls, nailed a three-pointer with 18 seconds left in the half sending the Cowgirls into the locker room with a commanding 18-9 lead.
A layup and a 10-foot jumper by Reid helped Ringling cut the deficit to 18-13 with just over a minute gone in the third quarter.
But the Lady Blue Devils continued to find the range and gradually trimmed the lead until Kelsea Thompson connected on a trey with 3:08 left in the third period to tie the game at 21-21.
A free throw by Kassidy Perkins gave the Lady Blue Devils their first lead since that initial basket at 22-21 with 2:08 left in the third quarter.
Karagan Cox hit another three-pointer for the lady Blue Devils and Ringling had a 25-21 lead with 1:48 to play.
Spangler’s put back on an offensive rebound and Samantha Good’s bucket helped the Cowgirls to knot the score at 25-25 heading into the final frame.
Throughout the early part of the fourth quarter the game remained tight and a single free throw by York with 3:56 to play in the game left Ryan trailing the Lady Blue Devils, 32-31.
That would be as close as the Cowgirls would get the rest of the game.
Ringling was able to forge into the lead thanks to hitting the offensive boards and hitting six of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter. The Cowgirls failed to aggressively attack Ringling’s full-court press in the second half.
Ringling’s biggest lead came with just 19.9 seconds left in the game after Thompson connected on two charity tosses.
Good’s 12-foot jumper with 6.7 second remaining set the final margin at 41-36.
Spangler led the Cowgirls with 11 points, but she was the only Cowgirl in double figures.
York, who has paced the Cowgirls in scoring most of the season finished with only one field goal in the game. Good added nine points and Lewis finished with eight tallies.
Reid and Thompson had 10 points each for Ringling.
Ringling dropped a 54-31 decision to Vici last Friday night in the consolation bracket semifinals to end its season.
The Cowgirls of first-year coach Steve Spangler were much improved in 2018 over the previous three seasons despite playing with only seven players most of the season.
Lewis was the only senior on the squad for the Cowgirls.
“Kenzie Lewis did an amazing job leading such a young squad,” said Spangler. “She helped lay a foundation that will pay off in the future.”
The Cowgirls started four sophomores all season and many times they faced opponents’ starting lineups that featured all juniors and seniors.
“Our talented group of sophomores gained valuable experience and their growth and maturity showed throughout the season,” added Spangler in reflecting on the season.
“With the return of the sophomore class and getting Emilee Martin back from a season-ending injury we should be able to build on the success of this year,” Spangler said.
York was the leading scorer for the Cowgirls as she averaged 12.2 points per game. Spangler contributed 10 points a game and led the team in rebounding with 8.4 rebounds a game.
The glaring weakness in this year’s edition of the Cowgirls was scoring. The Cowgirls averaged 34.6 points a game for the season.
Ryan connected on only 312 of 1,093 field goal attempts for a 29% shooting percentage. From long range, the Cowgirls were 119 of 456 tries for 26%.
At the free throw line, the Cowgirls struggled to convert and in a couple of contest, it really hampered the Cowgirl effort. Ryan was 171 of 324 free throws for 56%.
The squad was, however, outstanding on defense as they allowed only 38.4 points a game. The Cowgirls were 0-11 when opponents scored more than 40 points a game – which was an indication of the offensive struggle. In games in which the opponent scored less than 40 points, Ryan held an 8-5 record.