Alief Taylor Lady Lions beat Dawson Eagles

Alief Taylor Lady Lions beat Dawson Eagles

As dominating as Alief Taylor’s Nataliyah Gray was on Friday night, Dawson still found himself poised to win an important District 23-6A girls basketball game.

Two late Lady Eagles shots missed, however, and Taylor escaped in a 37-35 gym win from Dawson.

Gray, a 6-3 sophomore who played with two broken ankles, still managed to pick up 25 points from her team.

However, it was two rare non-Gray baskets that created the winning margin.

Taylor senior Crystal Nwoke converted an offensive rebound at 3:53 into a 35:29 lead before second guard Madison Bush-Lewis threw in an errant Dawson inbound pass at 1:09 for a 37:33 score .

Dawson freshman Kendall Ford and senior Ziara James each hit one of two free throws with the final 42 seconds remaining for a 37-35 score.

Lady Eagles’ Kennedy Ford saw a 3-pointer go halfway down and back out, while teammate Miracle Gibson’s two-pointer also went wrong at the last second as Taylor walked away with the win.

“I’m so proud of my team — everyone pushed through when we really needed it,” said Gray, who had 14 of her total points in the first half before the Lady Eagles led 25-20.

Dawson (16-16, 5-5) only had three field goals in the second half. The Lady Eagles’ problems were compounded by a 2-for-10 free-throw production in the last two quarters after being tied for 7-of-11 in the first half.

“You’re not going to beat a team like that if you hit 9 of 21 from the free throw line,” said Dawson head coach Sharee Griffin.

“We couldn’t make a basket and then when we came in and made a foul, we couldn’t get a free throw.”

The win now positions Taylor (17-12, 6-4) for a playoff spot in a District 23-6A race with Pearland leading and Alief Hastings and Shadow Creek close behind.

Taylor took an 8-1 lead, with Gray scoring all of those points, including a long-range tree.

However, Dawson hit back by repeatedly fouling Taylor and putting the Lady Eagles in the double bonus in the first quarter.

Dawson extended his biggest lead to 21-14 after a layup by Kendall Ford, who scored nine points in the second quarter.

However, the second half belonged to the Lady Lions, who beat Dawson 9-2 in the third quarter.

Taylor was never behind after taking a 29-27 lead in a Bush-Lewis steal.

“One of their top scorers (Kendall Ford) hurt us,” said Taylor head coach Brandy Jones. “We had to try to take her out of the game, protect her face and let everyone else fill in the gaps.”

The strategy worked, and the noticeably limping Gray was still effective.

“She injured one ankle on Wednesday and the other tonight,” Jones said. “She is very special. She is the motor in our team and averages a double-double.”

Gray’s brave effort proved enough to potentially put her team in the playoffs.

“We realized we needed this win,” she said. “In the second half everyone had to do their job on defense and we did it.

“We didn’t start that well in the district, but we’re starting to get some chemistry.”

Dawson has a bye Tuesday and then wraps up his season against state-ranked Pearland and the talented Shadow Creek.

“We rushed and did a great job getting on the boards,” Griffin said. “It’s just disappointing to draw the foul well and then not get anything from it.”

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