The Kell Lady Longhorns ended their historic season last night (3/6/20) with a 3-point loss against the #1 ranked Buford Wolves in the 5A state final. The #2 ranked Longhorns played a very clean game and matched well with the Wolves, but came up short in the final seconds.
Second-year head coach Tony Ingle had nothing to prove in the game. He had already guided his team through an undefeated regular season, and they continued to improve during their playoff run. “In his second year and going 32-0, I think that says it all right there,” said Kell principal Peter Giles. “He knows how to talk to the ladies and get the best out of them. He can have both a calming demeanor and get them fired up when necessary. He is able to always get the best out of them.”
After getting behind in the first quarter, the Longhorns refocused and battled back in the second quarter. Back-to-back three-point buckets from Makyah Favors and accurate free throws contributed to a 16-0 Longhorn run. The half ended with the game deadlocked, 29-29.
A high-scoring third quarter (19-21), with Kell’s Crystal Henderson making her presence known inside and outside the arc, yielded a two-point advantage for the Wolves heading into the final quarter, 48-50.
Down by seven at one point in the fourth quarter, the Longhorns showed their patience as they battled the dwindling clock. With the Wolves eager to bleed the clock on every possession, the Longhorns had no choice but to foul to keep the game alive. A perfect 3-point shot by Henderson closed the gap to two points with 20 seconds left in the game, 63-65. A foul on the next possession gave Buford a 3-point lead and left a mere 3 seconds for a tying three-point shot that hit just left of the basket. Buford took the game, and the championship, 63-66.
With only three seniors on the entire squad, this Longhorn team will be good for years to come. The experience of playing and coming up short in the final game will certainly not be forgotten. “Everything we did all year will continue,” said Coach Ingle. “We will keep getting better. We have a great core group coming back and we’re growing and learning. We will be more mature mentally, physically, and emotionally because of this experience.”
Kell Athletic Director Richard Norman was proud of the team and all they achieved this season. “This group of girls has taken Kell basketball to another level,” he said. “This season has been a great accomplishment, but there is much more to come.”
“It was a great year,” said Coach Ingle. “Not what we wanted obviously, but still a great year. We fought all year long and had a shot to go to overtime. You can’t ask for much more than that. We just came up short.”
Congratulations to the Lady Longhorns. We are disappointed along with you but excited for the things to come. You gave us great basketball all year. We are looking forward to what’s next!