Senior-laden Lady Bulldogs not ready to call it quits

LYFORD — For 12 of the Lyford Lady Bulldogs’ 15-man roster, tonight’s Class 3A area-round playoff game against Skidmore-Tynan will carry a little extra weight.

After a lengthy athletic career that has seen most of the team play together since middle school, tonight’s game against the Ladycats will go one of two ways.

1. Win and the Lady Bulldogs move on to the regional quarterfinals.

2. Lose and the 2017-18 season comes to a sudden end.

Regardless of the result, the 12 seniors on the squad are seeing this year’s postseason as their last ride on the court.

“We are a family,” said senior Sydney Brey. “I’ve known most of these girls since we were in elementary school or since we became a team in middle school and we’ve grown not only as team members but as friends. We have chemistry and I can see and read their minds in a game, and we’ve done great things with that.”

Despite the team’s recent eight-game win streak, the season didn’t start off on a positive note. It was a loss to the Santa Rosa Lady Warriors that helped the team band together and see things a little more clearly.

“I think the defining point of our season was our first game against Santa Rosa when we lost,” said Adriana Duran. “We did pretty well, but I think we came out and started off scared and after that loss we kind of lost our fear. We knew we just had to come out and execute.”

Since losing their first district game to the Lady Warriors, Lyford has been riding a wave of confidence that has propelled the team to the top.

The Lady Bulldogs finished the 32-3A season 7-1, tied with Santa Rosa for the district championship and the league’s top seed.

Nevertheless, in a world of uncertainty, one thing will be certain for Lyford head coach Teresa Gutierrez: Next season the veteran coach will have an almost entirely new team. For now, however, the team is ready to take on tonight’s challenge.

“We like to say they we are ‘battle-tested,’” said Gutierrez. “We like to go to the La Feria Tournament, which is always really good, and then for the past two years we’ve gone to the McAllen Memorial Tournament. I tell them that we are probably not going to walk out of those tourneys with a trophy, but we are going there to get better.

“Going into the McAllen tournament we were on a win streak, but then we dropped four out of five. Of course we’re going up against bigger schools and losing, but to me I don’t see it as a loss if we get better.”

Tonight’s game against Skidmore-Tynan tips off at 6 p.m. at Kingsville King High School.