PLANO — Sherman’s girls dug themselves into too deep of a hole to climb out of this time in the area round of the Class 4A Region II playoffs.

PLANO — Sherman’s girls dug themselves into too deep of a hole to climb out of this time in the area round of the Class 4A Region II playoffs.


Trailing by 21 points at the half and 23 early in the second half, the Lady Bearcats mounted a heroic rally and got as close as four in the final minute, but Mansfield Lake Ridge held on to win, 58-52, and knock the Lady Cats out of the playoffs on Friday night at Plano West.


"We’ve put ourselves in that situation a couple of times this year," Sherman head coach Beth Tallant said. "Sometimes we’d come out on the other side, but this time it was too little, too late."


Jayzhia Softly ended her high school basketball career with 26 points and 11 rebounds, mostly in the second half. Softly only had four points at the half and spent almost the entire second period on the bench after receiving her third foul, during which Lake Ridge outscored Sherman 19-3.


"She had a heck of a game," Tallant said. "I told her after the game, there’s nothing she should hang her head about. That’s what she needs to remember this night for, is how hard and how much she wanted this."


Freshman Kristen Gittens added eight points, including a 25-foot 3-pointer from the left wing that got the Lady Cats (17-12) within 10 points as time expired in the third quarter.


"She threw me off a little by putting that one up," Tallant said. "Of course, it went in, so I’m OK with it. I’ve seen potential in her since last year, when she was in eighth grade. She’s got a lot of potential, and I’m looking forward to continuing to coach her and seeing what she can do for us."


Kristian Dewitt scored 21 points and Anna Chambliss, Lake Ridge’s only senior, added 16 points for the Lady Eagles (15-15), who will move on to play Sulphur Springs in the 4A Region II quarterfinals on Tuesday.


Lake Ridge opened the game in a zone defense, and it paid off as Sherman shot an abysmal 4-of-22 from the floor in the first half en route to a 30-9 halftime deficit.


"I was a little shocked, just with all the games I’ve watched where they played man-to-man," Tallant said. "(Lake Ridge’s coach) did a good job. She saw what other teams had done to us, and it frustrated us."


But in the second half, the Lady Cats made adjustments to counter the zone, and they worked.


"I told the girls to attack the basket," Tallant said. "We have to attack and find our shooters, and if you’re not open, attack and find your shooter. We did a much better job penetrating."


Everything that could go wrong went wrong for Sherman in the first half as they trailed by 21, then by 23 as Marina Hawkins scored the opening basket of the third period for Lake Ridge.


"I told the girls to keep chipping away, keep shooting the ball," Tallant said. "We were forcing some things that we didn’t need to be forcing, but there were a couple of layups we should’ve had and some wide-open looks."


That is exactly what the Lady Cats did as their full-court press finally began to pay off. Brandy Higgs drew two huge charging fouls, Mary Kate Motley hit a 3-pointer off a steal, and finally, Gittens’ deep trey cut it to a 10-point margin.


Lake Ridge still held an 11-point edge with 4:40 to go, but J’Lyn Wash hit a 3-pointer, Softly scored two baskets and then hit a 3 from the left corner with a minute to go, and Motley drove for a bucket to make it 56-52.


Sherman had a chance to make it a one-possession game, but Sa’Liesha Hunter’s 3-point try was off the mark and the Lady Eagles rebounded with 6.2 seconds left.


Friday’s game was the last for five seniors who took Sherman a long way in the last four years: Softly, Higgs, Hunter, Wash and Brelyn Keys.


"Those are some big shoes to fill," Tallant said, holding back the emotion. "All of them, not just Sa’Liesha and Jayzhia. Brandy’s tenacious defense, J’Lyn Wash being a role player and an amazing team player, and Brelyn’s another go-getter."


Next year, the Lady Cats will look a lot more different without the five quick guards. They’ll be a young team as well, with Emily Kirkpatrick and Motley the only rising seniors. Tallant also hopes a healthy Heather Hinkley will step up and have a breakout sophomore year in the post.


"Our style of basketball is probably going to change," Tallant said. "We’re not going to have that same amount of speed. I expect them to step up, and I think they will. Emily and Mary Kate have amazing leadership qualities. It’s going to be a completely different dynamic, but I’m looking forward to it."