Lady Oilers stun previously unbeaten Beaumont United in OT
One day after her team’s stunning upset of previously unbeaten Beaumont United in a Class 6A area girls’ basketball playoff game, Lauren Martens’ head was still spinning, absorbing the adulation, sorting out the ramifications of the win, and dissecting her squad’s unfathomable feat.
The Pearland head coach guided the Lady Oilers to a shocking 40-39 overtime victory against the Lady Timberwolves, who had won their first 35 games this season.
That, however, just touches the tip of the iceberg.
Pearland entered the game without two starters, 6-foot, 3-inch post De’Yona Gaston, and senior guard Kori Grays, each sidelined with injuries.
A third starter, 6-2 Kaylie Kovach, who was instrumental in the Lady Oilers’ bi-district win over Clear Lake, was out of town at a volleyball showcase.
Two other regulars, sophomore guards Nylah Brown and Jasmin Allen, each fouled out at the start of the fourth quarter while senior post Madison Gissendanner finished the game with four fouls.
But for Pearland this season, confronting the abnormal has been the norm.
“It’s been that way all year - kids in and out with injuries, family situations, all different kinds of things,” Martens said. “My kids are calm in the face of adversity because we’ve been dealing with it for so long.
“We just say ‘let’s go and get it done.’ No one expects us to win. We don’t have a lot to lose and everything to gain.”
It was just a few weeks ago that Pearland lost a 26-point decision to rival Dawson and entered the playoffs losing three of four games.
However, Pearland upset Clear Lake in bi-district and took its energy, enthusiasm and effort to another level against United.
“We’re very loose,” Martens said. “This is our March Madness time - anything can happen. Records don’t matter anymore. Where you finished in district doesn’t matter.
“It’s about one night, one game, and whoever comes out on top in that hour-and-a-half. Our focus is to do what we can do, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Martens said her team’s quick turnaround really wasn’t all that quick.
“When we lost De’Yona in district, our identity and chemistry took a hit,” she said. “That took time to re-establish.
“We weren’t good the (Alief) Taylor game or the Dawson game, but even though we lost to Elsik, we played better. Chemistry takes time, and that’s when it all started to come together again.”
A season-ending win over Alief Hastings seemed to provide the impetus the Lady Oilers needed in the win over Clear Lake.
“We just keep pushing through, and these last few weeks coming into practice, there’ a different focus and level of intensity,” Martens said. “The girls don’t care what people say. That’s just how we’ve gone to work.
“The confidence level is big, and it’s a fun time and a fun atmosphere - and the girls believe in themselves. Macey (Braswell) has obviously stepped up, and everybody else is chipping in.”
Against United, Braswell (game-high 26 points) scored all of Pearland’s points in the first quarter after which the Lady Oilers led, 12-8.
Pearland was on top 18-17 at halftime and 26-25 entering the fourth quarter. The teams then went into overtime knotted at 35.
United held leads of 37-35 and 39-37 in OT, but missed six free throws in the extra session and 14 for the game. The Lady Timberwolves also missed two close shots that likely would have been game-winners in the final seconds.
Lady Oiler freshman Aryelle Stevens grabbed the rebound after the second miss and held the ball as time expired.
Martens hoped to continue Pearland’s Cinderella run in a regional quarterfinal matchup against Atascocita. She isn’t overlooking another key element in Pearland’s resurgence.
“The atmosphere at our games has been super,” she said. “The fans, friends, the student section, some of the boys’ basketball players that have worked with us, the sub-varsity kids - they’ve all made a huge difference.
“It’s exciting when you’re the underdog. We’ll do our best to continue playing.”