All season long, it’s been either senior Sa’Liesha Hunter or classmate Jayzhia Softly who’ve led Sherman’s girls with big nights. But rarely both at the same time.

All season long, it’s been either senior Sa’Liesha Hunter or classmate Jayzhia Softly who’ve led Sherman’s girls with big nights. But rarely both at the same time.


The four-year starting backcourt duo saved their best combined performance for their final home game at Bearcat Gymnasium on Friday night.


Hunter hit six 3-pointers and finished with 25 points and nine steals, and Softly added a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds as the Lady Bearcats pulled away late from Wylie for a 75-51 win, staying in a tie for second place in District 13-4A.


"It’s bittersweet," Softly said afterward, smiling while wiping away a tear. "That’s the word that sums it all up. It’s happy because we’re going into the playoffs, but it’s sad because it’s our last home game and we’re leaving the other girls we’ve been playing with our whole lives. We know there are bigger things in our future."


Five seniors in all were honored before the game. In addition to Hunter and Softly, Brandy Higgs finished with 10 points, while Brelyn Keys added six and J’Lyn Wash finished with five.


It was a streaky night for the Lady Cats (15-11, 10-3), who hit on 8-of-13 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half but cooled to 3-of-9 after the intermission. But Sherman was almost perfect from the charity stripe, making 14 of 15.


"I’m very proud of them for stepping up to the free-throw line and knocking those down," Lady Cats head coach Beth Tallant said. "I’m very proud of our rebounding efforts. Mary Kate Motley came in and grabbed a clutch offensive board when Wylie had a run going, and then Jayzhia got her double-double. The seniors went out with a bang."


Until the fourth quarter, it was still a contested game as Sherman would make a run to open up a wide margin, only to see Wylie (6-18, 5-8) battle back.


The Lady Pirates cut it to 47-42 late in the third period on a Mikayla Milbrook basket before the Lady Cats widened the lead back to nine at the end of the quarter. Then Wylie trimmed the deficit back to eight points on three consecutive Kennedi Foreman free throws at the 6:01 mark of the fourth after being fouled on a trey attempt.


But from that point on, Sherman’s quick defense began to pay dividends.


Hunter got a steal and layup, then Higgs got a layup and foul off another takeaway, and the Lady Cats were off and running. Higgs added a jumper, then Softly closed out two Hunter steals with buckets to make it 66-47 with 2:29 to go.


"I was never nervous because I knew the seniors were going to do whatever it took to put us back into position," Tallant said.


Foreman led a balanced Lady Pirate scoring attack with 10 points.


The game looked like a complete Lady Cat runaway at the start as Sherman opened the game on a 13-0 run lasting more than six minutes thanks in large part to three consecutive 3-pointers, two by Hunter sandwiching one from the top of the key by Higgs.


But Foreman’s three-point play with 1:44 remaining broke the ice, and back came Wylie on a 15-3 run of its own to cut it to one with 5:57 remaining in the second period, forcing Tallant to call a time out.


"I was frustrated because we weren’t doing the things that we talk about on a constant and continual basis, which is boxing out and rebounding," Tallant said. "That’s how they were able to get within one. That’s the game of basketball. It’s all about runs, and it’s all about who maintains their composure throughout the game."


Three-pointers by Kristen Gittens and Hunter gave Sherman a cushion again, and the Lady Cats pulled out to a 38-22 halftime lead.


The Lady Cats close out the regular season on Tuesday night at Greenville, with a possible tiebreaker game on Friday night against Lovejoy. They still have an attainable goal of finishing as district runner-up for the second year in a row.


"Our goal obviously was a district championship this year," Tallant said. "We always set our goals high, but I told the girls at the beginning of this week that even if we don’t attain a goal, you’ve got to set new goals. I’m very proud that we’ve stuck with the second-place goal and have essentially achieved it."