The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Lady Pirate basketball team was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention following its loss to the Orange Grove (OG) Lady Bulldogs 33-31 Tuesday, Feb. 4 at OG.

RFHS’ district record moves to 5-7 and its overall record 15-16.

Going into its game against OG, RFHS controlled its own fate to make the playoffs, needing to win their three remaining games. Unfortunately, RFHS was unable to pull that off after surrendering a late lead to OG.

RFHS Head Girls Basketball Coach Mark Malone was disappointed because the girls were previously 3-0 against OG during the season.

“When we went into halftime, I felt like we didn’t have any kind of energy. We were kind of going through the motions and our defense wasn’t very good,” said M. Malone. “I went in at that half and told them, ‘Understand, you let a team hang around, hang around, and hang around, they’re going to get that momentum and the psyche of, “Hey, we have a chance.”’ And that’s what happened.”

OG continually boxed in RFHS’ leading scorers, Kaylee Howell and Jordan Malone. M. Malone said the team was able to make enough shots in its first district game against OG outside of Howell and J. Malone. However, playing at OG, along with not having the presence of Lilith Solis in the middle dealing with an ankle injury, RFHS struggled to pull away.

RFHS entered the fourth quarter leading 20-18. Howell and Molly Frost kept RFHS ahead of OG scoring eight points combined in the early in the quarter.

As the game crept late into the fourth, OG hung around and hit a 3-point field goal (FG) with one minute remaining to go ahead. Howell answered back, going 2-2 at the line to put RFHS up one point.

With 20 seconds remaining, OG hit another 3-point FG. With RFHS trailing by two, Howell drove to the basket again and was fouled. This time, Howell went 1-2 from the line, putting RFHS behind by one point at 32-31. Off an RFHS turnover, OG had a free run to the basket but was fouled with six seconds remaining. From then, RFHS was unable to execute on an inbounds pass and could not regain the lead.

Howell led RFHS in scoring with 13 points.

Frost scored six points and Mikayla Molina finished with five points.

With two district games remaining, RFHS is likely to finish the District 31-4A season in fifth place.

RFHS played Friday, Feb. 7 at Sinton. They play again at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11 against Beeville.

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