Lady Rockets head into playoffs this week


Photo By: Alexandra Villanueva

Coach Triva Corales coaches senior Jonmecia Baskin, a key player on the team.

The defending 6A girls basketball state champions have clinched the District 26-6A Championship for the fifth consecutive season, and will look to defend that crown in the playoffs starting on Tuesday, February 18 at 6:00 against Austin High at Seguin High School. But the road back to state will not be easy. 

After losing a hefty number of girls due to graduation, the Lady Rockets did not meet expectations to start the season, going 6-6 leading up to Thanksgiving break. After the 6-6 start, the San Antonio area, all of Region Four, and maybe even the state, took Judson off of their radar. But ever since then, the Lady Rockets have gone 22-2 with their only losses coming to the Reagan Rattlers and the Clemens Buffaloes before winter break. The Lady Rockets have since blasted teams in District 26-6A, beating Steele both times, 63-41 and 68-44, and beating previously state-ranked Smithson Valley, 57-49 and 63-48.

The way the Lady Rockets have played since the 38-37 loss to Clemens before winter break has jolted them back into the state championship contender conversation. One problem they had was they lacked confidence and they had to figure out what was their strongest element. Early on, it seemed like Coach Triva Corrales was also trying to figure out who were the best players and what they were best at. Since then, the Lady Rockets have dominated inside the paint, unlike past years teams. 

When junior Kierra Sanderlin was out for many weeks with an injury, players like junior Michaela Verrett and sophomore Amira Mabry stepped up to make plays for the team, along with Seniors Teanna Huggins and Chiresha King. Because of that, along with Sanderlin’s return, the Lady Rockets have been able to pull off one of the most incredible mid-season turnarounds. 

As stated before, the road back to state will not be easy. But luckily for the Lady Rockets, the Austin High Maroons don’t seem to pose much of a threat as long as the Lady Rockets play the way they have been to end the season. However, after the first round is where things get tricky.

Judson is in the second half of the Region 4 bracket and there are plenty of teams that are capable of knocking off the defending Region 4 champions. As many of you remember from a year ago, Austin Westlake almost derailed the Lady Rockets in a down-to-the-wire game in the Regional Quarterfinals, but a pass from Corina Carter to Elena Blanding for the game-winning layup kept the Rockets’ season alive.

This year, the Lake Travis Cavaliers (24-9), who are on our side of the bracket and take on the Clemens Buffaloes (22-13) in the first round, look to be like a team that could dethrone the Lady Rockets. They took the number one seed in District 25-6A after winning a coin-flip tiebreaker over Austin Westlake. Westlake took second seed and was sent to the upper half of the bracket where they will face a tough Smithson Valley Rangers (27-7) squad from our district who placed third after losing a seeding game to the Steele Knights (26-9), 58-44, last Friday.

Also on our side of the bracket are the Brandeis Broncos (25-6), who came in third in a tough District 28-6A. The Broncos’ Ariana Villa and Alexis Parker are the team’s biggest playmakers and both have over 300 points on the season. The Broncos will be favored in their first-round match against the Johnson Jaguars (19-16). The Lady Rockets and Broncos could meet in the second round in what could be an epic showdown between two of the top teams in the San Antonio area.

The O’Connor Panthers (22-9) took the second seed in District 28-6A and will play the Roosevelt Roughriders (21-11) in the first round. Carleigh Wenzel of O’Connor averages 20.1 points per game and has scored over 500 points just this season and could cause problems for the Roughriders and maybe even Lake Travis, who they could meet in the second round. 

On the other upper side of the bracket, the Clark Cougars (27-4), have won their second consecutive District 28-6A championship and are another contender to take the Region 4 Championship. They made the Regional Final a year ago but lost to the Lady Rockets by quite a margin, 71-44. Next door are the Westlake Chaparrals, who take on Smithson Valley, and the Reagan Rattlers (26-7) take on the Holmes Huskies (24-7), which is an exciting first-round match. The winner of that game will take on the winner of the Steele Knights (26-9) and Austin Bowie Bulldogs (18-11) game. Senior Aja Holmes is the Knights’ leading scorer for the season and has caused problems for the Lady Rockets before and will likely cause problems in the playoffs. If the Lady Rockets manage to get out of the bottom half of the bracket, Clark, Westlake, Smithson Valley, Reagan, Holmes, and Steele could all be waiting in the Regional Final.

Valley teams like United and United South are having great seasons and have the capability to finally knock off a San Antonio or Austin team this year and they should not be overlooked.

While the playoff bracket is full of contenders, the Lady Rockets’ focus is the Austin Maroons in the first round and then will take it one game at a time. The Lady Rockets must continue to dominate inside the paint to get points. Shots from outside the three-point line were what past teams relied heavily on, but this team has discovered that Sanderlin, Mabry, and Huggins can get the job done inside the paint.

The Lady Rockets are playing their best basketball right now and it sure will be an exciting playoff run. 


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