After getting close the last two seasons, the Clear Springs Chargers finally punched its ticket to the state tournament, pulling away from Katy Seven Lakes 55-44 at the Campbell Center.
Clear Springs looked like a team of destiny after beating two teams ranked in the state’s top 10 poll this week, but trailed Seven Lakes by two points at the start of the fourth quarter in the 5A Region III final.
The Lady Spartans grabbed the lead thanks to dogged defense of Clear Lakes star Brooke McCarty, who scored 35 points to help beat Bellaire Friday in the region semifinal. Seven Lakes held McCarty to six points after the third quarter.
“(Inman) was on Brooke, kind of containing her with her height,” Clear Springs coach Pamela Crawford said. “So Courtney knew she had to step up and she did.”
That’s when Courtnie Latham did, taking over for the Chargers. Latham scored seven points in a 9-0 run early in the fourth, and four points in an 11-0 run late in the game to help put Seven Lakes away.
“I stepped up and made big shots,” Latham said. “Once our momentum got going, we just got hyped and went from there.”
Seven Lakes held its own against the No. 3 team in the state thanks in large part to Christen Inman and Sydney Buchel. The pair scored 31 of the Lady Spartans’ 35 points through three quarters.
After Inman scored to put Seven Lakes up by four points at the start of the fourth. Latham knocked down consecutive three pointers to put Clear Springs back on top. Latham knocked down a free throw to cap a 9-0 run and give the Chargers a 42-37 lead.
Another Inman basket closed the gap to 44-41, but that would be the last points Seven Lakes scored until Komal Moudgil hit a three pointer at the final buzzer. In between Latham, McCarty and Kaylin Roher put the finishing touches on the game, scoring nine of the next 11 points.
Clear Springs came close to reaching the state tournament each of the last two seasons, losing to Elsik in the regional semfinals both years.
“Right now I’m kind of numb but it feels great,” Crawford said. “We’ve been working on this every day since we opened up this school, and to finally accomplish it, it’s a wonderful feeling.”