Girls’ basketball: Surging Pearland wins Brazoswood tournament

December 31, 2017 GMT

CLUTE – A 1-8 start to the basketball season isn’t always a sure-fire indicator that better days lie ahead, but for the Pearland Lady Oilers, they knew patience would be a virtue.

Since that rocky beginning, head coach Lauren Martens’ team has won 13 of 16 games and extended its winning streak to eight Saturday night by capturing the championship of the Brazoswood Holiday Classic with a 56-34 victory over Mineral Wells.

Pearland’s inside-outside punch of 6-foot, 3-inch sophomore post De’Yona Gaston and junior guard Macey Braswell proved to be unstoppable throughout the tournament, and that duo shared tourney most valuable player honors.

The 5-foot, 4-inch Braswell averaged 25.2 points per game while Gaston poured in 20.4 points per outing as the Lady Oilers cruised to five straight wins. Gaston also produced three double-doubles with strong rebounding while blocking shots, altering shots, stealing passes and often leading breaks.

Pearland point guard Sophia Volpe, a 5-5 senior, also garnered all-tournament honors.

Pearland’s once-troublesome season is now picking up steam following the return of Gaston, who missed 10 games because of an injured leg. Also absent from the Pearland lineup in the early portion of the year were returning starting guard/forward Jocelyn Thompson and letterman Kori Grays.

“It’s good knowing that resuming district play we can have the confidence to keep pushing through,” Martens said. “I kind of feel like we’re finally starting to hit our stride.

“We struggled in the beginning of the season with some injuries, but that put us in a position of not having peaked. We’re still growing and trying to get better every game.”

Pearland opened the tournament with a 72-21 win over Galena Park as Braswell scored 28 and Gaston added 13. That was followed by a 62-41 win over Katy Taylor in which Braswell and Gaston poured in 25 and 20, respectively.

In a 66-42 win against Hitchcock, Braswell scored 29 and Gaston 20. In the tournament semifinals, Pearland downed District 23-6A rival Brazoswood, 75-34, with Braswell scoring 28 and Gaston adding 23.

In the championship game, Gaston led the way with 26 points and Braswell finished with 16.

Mineral Wells head coach Tony Raffaele said his team had no answer for Gaston.

“She’s good, and we didn’t have anybody who could stay with her,” Raffaele said. “We have some shooters, but we don’t have a post to match up with her.

“We had a good run, and we came down here to see some different competition, which was good for us. We did well the first four games, but we were playing catch-up (against Pearland). Playing a team like this, you better shoot well, and we didn’t.

“But our girls play hard. We have pretty intense practices, and we go out and play defense every night. We have a district game on Tuesday, and this tournament will prepare us the rest of the way.”

Martens said winning the tournament title was a bonus.

“We looked at this tournament as a great opportunity for us to get our legs back after having five days off,” the Pearland head coach said. “We were able to play a lot of girls for a lot of minutes.

“We didn’t play well all of the time, but you can always play hard. Tonight (vs. Mineral Wells) was very spotty.

“We’re happy to come out with the win, and I feel like now that we’ll be refocused when we play an Alief Taylor team on Tuesday that’s unbeaten in district like us.”