Lady Tomcats find themselves fighting for playoff position

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Tom Bean's Emmy Pennell shoots over Trenton's Misty Spindle during District 14-2A action.

TOM BEAN — The 14-2A race has already become a bit unpredictable since five of the seven teams already suffered at least two losses after just four district contests.

Last season the Tom Bean Lady Tomcats were well above that fray as co-district champions during what turned out to be the program’s best year since 1987.

But this season Tom Bean finds itself squarely in the thick of the playoff race and the Lady Tomcats’ effort at the free-throw line contributed heavily to a 49-41 loss against Trenton in 14-2A action.

Tom Bean made only 13-of-30 attempts from the charity stripe, including 9-of-21 in the second half as it was trying to rally.

“That’s what I told the girls. We shoot them every day — we work on them all throughout practice,” Tom Bean head coach Mandi Corbin said. “We lost it on free throws and rebounding.”

Taylor Brown scored 14 points, Emma Lowing finished with 11 points and Emmy Pennell totaled seven points for Tom Bean (9-16, 2-3), which travels to second-place Sam Rayburn on Friday night.

The Lady Tomcats are tied with Bland and Honey Grove in fourth place as the first half of district play is about to end. Tom Bean and Bland didn’t lose to anyone else in sharing the district crown and this year already have five such losses.

“We’re not out of the picture by any means,” Corbin said. “We need to get that spark and get things together. I haven’t had a consistent starting five yet. With injuries and sickness when one comes back, another one leaves.”

Mariana Caro had 17 points, Misty Spindle chipped in eight points and Mari Partridge added seven points for Trenton, which moved into third place with the victory. At 3-2, the Lady Tigers have already tripled their district win total from a year ago.

They were able to hang on in this one despite their own struggles at the line — Trenton was only 5-of-17 but made 3-of-5 in the final minute.

Caro made two layups, the latter with just under seven minutes remaining, to give the Lady Tigers a 36-28 lead.

But Brown responded with a three and Lowing followed with a putback and Tom Bean’s deficit was down to three.

The Lady Tomcats trailed by two after Baylee Bean went 2-of-3 at the line in the middle of the fourth and she was fouled moments later with a chance to tie the score but missed both free-throw attempts.

Caro and Spindle then each hit shots in the lane and Trenton was never threated over the final three minutes.

Tom Bean did tie the score twice in the third quarter but could never go in front and while Trenton stayed ahead during most of that eight-minute stretch, the Lady Tigers were unable to build more than the 32-28 margin at the end of the stanza.

Brown made free throws to knot the score on both occasions, first at 24 with 2:38 left in the third and then at 28 with 1:21 showing.

Partridge broke the tie with a free throw of her own and Spindle connected on a three-pointer from the right corner with 23 seconds remaining for that four-point advantage.

The Lady Tomcats took a 19-18 lead into half-time thanks to Lowing, who totaled seven points in the quarter, and Kailey Vick’s basket with 28 seconds before the break broke a tie and kept Tom Bean in front after Caro hit a free throw right before the intermission.

Trenton held the advantage early in the frame but Lowing and Brown rallied the home team, including Lowing’s three-pointer from the left wing for a 17-15 lead with just under two minutes to go in the half.

Alondra Torres tied the game on the ensuing possession for the Lady Tigers.

Tom Bean trailed 9-5 after the first quarter after it managed just buckets by Brown and Vick and a free throw from Laramie Worley.