52° F Monday, April 24, 2017

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Sensing the season slipping away, the Lady Cavalier seniors stepped to the forefront to secure a playoff berth in their final home game at Lake Travis.

The effort was greatly aided by a non-senior as well, with junior guard Katie Berry scoring a season-high 17 points to go with a team-leading seven rebounds as the Lady Cavs rallied to beat Akins 61-51 Tuesday in the regular-season finale.

Lake Travis (11-22, 6-6 District 15-5A) trailed by 10 at one point in the second quarter and were down 30-24 at halftime as Akins (2-10 in district) looked like the team in need of a win to make the playoffs.

After the break, seniors Abby Hicks, Liz Ademski, Annick Morris and Rylee Dawson helped lead the charge to take down the Lady Eagles.

“We wanted it really bad, and we knew we could do it,” Dawson said. “It was amazing because it means we have a win in our last home game, and we’re going to playoffs. We needed that win to get that spot.”

Nine different Lady Cavs scored in the victory, which puts Lake Travis into the playoffs in its first season in Class 5A.

Dawson finished with nine points, six rebounds and three steals, while Ademski had eight points and three boards. Morris and Hicks had seven points each, and senior Tess Doyle wound up with six points and five rebounds.

“We realized we weren’t playing to our full potential,” Morris said. “It really kicked in for me because I’m a senior; it’s my last home game, and I really wanted to go out with a bang, so I gave it my all. In the first half, we were really frazzled and jumpy; in the second half, we settled down and played our game.”

Berry helped calm things down against Akins’ full-court press, working the middle of the court and distributing the ball forward or attacking the basket herself.

“I was thinking of always pushing and advancing the ball because they were playing very aggressive,” Berry said. “Once we got in the second half, we started slowing down, keeping a little more composure and taking good shots. It feels good knowing we get to go to the playoffs and for the seniors, in their last home game, it feels good to win for them.”

Senior Abbie Mahlum had two points and four rebounds, and Mandy Karako finished with four points and three boards. The Lady Cavs will be the four-seed in District 15-5A, setting up a date with District 16-5A No. 1 seed Pflugerville, the second-ranked team in the state.

Lake Travis will need to play precise and mistake-free to keep it competitive, without any lapses like the first half against Akins.

“It was a matter of deciding if you want this – it’s your last home game for a lot of your seniors and you’re getting outhustled,” said coach Shannon Haddon of her message at halftime. “I told them to get out there and get some sparks to make the difference. I put it back on the seniors, put the starters in and told them to take care of business.”

In the first quarter, the Lady Cavs allowed nine offensive rebounds to Akins and committed seven turnovers but only trailed 12-10. Things started to get away from Lake Travis even more in the second with the Lady Eagles getting their hands on every loose ball and taking a 26-16 lead with a little more than two minutes left, prompting a timeout.

Lake Travis chipped away, and Berry made two free throws with one second left before the half to make it a six-point game.

The Lady Cavs allowed just two offensive boards in the third quarter and finally took the lead on a nice pass from Berry to Ademski for a 33-32 advantage with 4:25 left in the quarter.

The score continued to change hands, but a jumper by Hicks and a 3-pointer from Berry capped a 14-5 run and gave Lake Travis a 42-40 lead headed to the final quarter.

It stayed close throughout most of the fourth, but the Lady Cavs crashed the boards and hit the floor with intensity to pull away.

Dawson had a strong drive from the right wing to give Lake Travis a 48-47 lead with 4:58 left to play. Though it stayed close, the Lady Cavs wouldn’t trail again.

Berry made three of four free throws to make it 51-49, but Akins tied it up at 51-51 with 2:03 left.

Then, Berry got in the lane on a fast break and put through a runner, and Karako made a free throw for a three-point margin.

After Berry made two more from the stripe, the Lady Cavs put things away for good following a Dawson defensive rebound.

The senior post passed ahead to Morris, who wound up getting it back to Dawson on the left wing, where she hit Karako cutting down the lane for a layup plus the foul to put Lake Travis ahead 59-51.

Doyle calmly sank two more free throws to cap the Lady Cavs’ 12-2 run, and Lake Travis drained the clock and punched their playoff ticket.

Topping things off, the team also put on a postgame dance routine at center court for their family and fans.

“They didn’t run it past me, but it’s their last home game,” Haddon said. “Let them have some fun.”

Dawson said, “It was a surprise.”

Now Lake Travis looks to take on the serious task of a top-tier team. The game against Pflugerville will be either Monday or Tuesday.

“If you want it bad enough you can make a good game of anything and come out a winner,” Haddon said. “I hope we can hang on and stay focused to get past this next game. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be, but we’ve got to work for it and earn it.”

Final girls District 15-5A standings

Anderson 10-2

Bowie 10-2

Westlake 6-6

Lake Travis 6-6

Del Valle 4-8

Austin 4-8

Akins 2-10

Playoff picture:

District 15-5A vs. District 16-5A bidistrict matchup

Lake Travis at Pflugerville, 7 p.m. Monday

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