LYFORD — Brownsville Jubilee and Lyford entered their game Tuesday night with 7-0 district records.
And in its biggest game of the year, Jubilee answered the bell.
Three Lady Titans scored in double figures, led by Jazmine Gracia, who netted a game-high 18 points, and Jubilee used a strong third quarter to push past the Lady Bulldogs 63-50.
The Lady Titans are now in sole possession of first place in District 32-3A with an 8-0 record, Lyford is now in a two-way tie with Brownsville IDEA Frontier, which also is 7-1. Those teams will meet next week.
After a see-saw battle during the first half, a 12-2 run late in the third quarter gave the Lady Titans a 43-34 lead at the end of the period. The Lady Titans outscored the Lady Bulldogs 14-9 in the frame and amped up their press defense in the final minutes to score in transition.
“The third quarter was where the momentum shifted,” Jubilee coach Victor Venegas said. “We pressed towards the end of the third quarter, and I don’t think (Lyford) was expecting that and that allowed us to score in transition. That helped us set the tone for the fourth quarter, and the girls were able to relax.”
Jubilee’s Mariana Espinoza contributed 12 points, Julissa Garza added 11 and Alexis Robinson finished with nine.
Lyford battled back during the fourth quarter and cut the deficit to 55-49 after a Sam Delgado 3-pointer with 2:40 left to play. Later in the quarter, Robinson put the nail in the coffin with a 3 that put Jubilee ahead for good at 62-49.
“During past tournaments and games, I was hesitant with my shot,” Robinson said. “So I went home and I worked on my shot with my dad, and I wasn’t hesitant tonight and I wanted to show that tonight.”
Lyford fell behind the eight-ball early with two of its best players Kayleen May and Damaris Bermudez getting into foul trouble. Because of that, Lyford coach Teresa Gutierrez was forced to limit their minutes during the second and third quarters.
“Two of our starters were in foul trouble, and they had to sit for most of the second quarter and to start the third quarter,” Gutierrez said. “But even then I felt my subs did a good job on keeping the game close while they sat. It was a game of runs, and we couldn’t recover after they hit us with that third quarter.”
With one game left in the first half of district play, the Lady Titans next play Monte Alto. The Lady Titans are in their first year in the UIL and brimming with confidence as they head into the back half of the regular season.
“Coming into our first year in (the) UIL, this is a big win for us,” Venegas said. “We set some goals at the start of the year, and this is one of them. We wanted to come in here and play tough basketball and try to come out on top, and we knew Lyford was tough. They have a great team and a good history. We just wanted to come out and play our best.”
Lyford will meet Frontier next week for an edge in the battle for second place. A loss would drop the Lady Bulldogs to third within a one-week span.
“We play Frontier next week, so that is a big one for us,” Gutierrez said. “Tonight we just got beat to the ball, and we didn’t rebound very well. They were getting a lot of second-chance points. As far as height and physicality-wise, I felt we were better, they just had more second-chance points than we did and it killed us.”
May led the offense with 16 points, Bermudez netted six and Alyssa Garcia also finished with six for the Lady Bulldogs.