Nice pass

Jordan Malone gets off a pass in stride to Alyssa Garcia in the corner.

The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Lady Pirate basketball team kept their winning streak alive in stunning fashion after coming back from down 18 in the third quarter to defeat the Sinton Lady Pirates 55-54 Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Sinton.

The win extended RFHS’ winning streak to 13 games and put them at 6-0 through the first half of District 26-4A play. RFHS’ overall record stands at 16-4.

RFHS sits atop District 26-4A in first place. Beeville and Sinton are in second and third place, respectively.

Sinton appeared to be the team that would end RFHS’ winning streak late in the third quarter, leading by as much as 18 points. However, RFHS made an adjustment defensively and went on a miraculous comeback in the fourth quarter to steal the game away.

Postgame, RFHS Head Girls Basketball Coach Morgan Hale said she was in shock and trying to process how the girls were able to accomplish what they did.

“Tonight we came out slow, but we figured out a way,” said Hale.

Before the game, Hale was worried the team would come out flat against Sinton and said it contributed to the slow start for them.

“We talked all week about not coming out flat and we can’t do that, especially going on the road to places like Sinton and Beeville. We had to make sure we were staying on top of things,” said Hale.

Sinton jumped out to an 11-point lead at the half behind a big performance by Sinton’s Emma Thomas. Thomas scored 15 up to that point, and put RFHS in a 31-20 hole.

During the third quarter, Sinton’s 11-point lead grew into an 18-point lead with three minutes remaining. They had all but sealed a big home victory.

Around this time, Hale called for a full-court press defense against Sinton. From then, the game slowly changed. Sinton struggled to make shots and RFHS began to force turnovers against Sinton guards. A couple buckets in the paint by Kaylee Howell and a three-point shot by Mikayla Molina later put the game at 46-32 to end the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Howell and Jordan Malone quickly went on a 10-point run and brought the game to a score of 46-42 with 5:32 remaining.

Howell hit two mid-range jumpers and Malone hit two straight three-point shots to swing the game. With RFHS still playing a full-court press, Sinton struggled to move the ball past half court. Malone, Molina, and Alyssa Garcia forced multiple turnovers.

Malone said with a district championship on the line, her team never gave up, kept fighting and fed her the ball early in the fourth quarter.

“We know how to fight and it’s the district championship on the line,” said Malone. “Those two three’s (I hit), that’s all my teammates. I was hitting, they saw me, and we just kept fighting.”

Both teams fought back and forth the rest of the quarter, with RFHS slowly chipping away at Sinton’s lead. It wasn’t until with eight seconds remaining, RFHS finally caught Sinton and took its first lead since the first quarter.

Malone threw a high pass to Howell in the paint and made the game winning shot on a layup that bounced off the rim three times before falling in.

In Sinton’s last possession, Garcia came away with a steal with two seconds remaining to seal the game.

Hale said the effort of Howell and Malone was a big reason for their remarkable comeback.

“They were both locked in tonight. Every timeout, every opportunity we had, they were in each other’s ear, in their teammates ear, telling them, ‘Keep fighting, we’re in this,’” said Hale. “They played so well and I’m so proud of them.”

Howell led RFHS in scoring with 19 points.

Malone followed with 17 points, including three three-point field goals (FG).

Messiah Hernandez hit three three-point FG’s, scoring nine points.

RFHS played Miller Friday, Jan. 15. Their next game is 6:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21 against Calhoun at home.

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