By Eugenio Torrens
Wharton girls basketball coach Chad Reed had one simple reason his team lost 57-42 to East Lake on Feb. 9 in the Class 8A regional quarterfinals.
“I just think we ran out of gas,” Reed said.
The Wildcats (13-15) won three games in four days the week before to win a district championship despite entering the tournament four games below .500.
Wharton was up by six after the first quarter and down only one at halftime, but the Eagles (15-12) forced the Wildcats into a man-to-man defense that sapped its remaining energy.
East Lake came out fast in the third quarter and Wharton’s tired legs showed.
“Before we knew it, we were down 10, down 12,” Reed said.
The Eagles made it a 10-point game, but Abbigale Kaczmarek knocked down a free throw to trim the lead to single digits.
East Lake closed the third quarter on a 7-3 run and added a 4-0 spurt to start the fourth that ended any hopes at a comeback. Wharton was outscored 28-14 in the second half.
“When you get to the regionals, it’s a different game,” Reed said. “It’s one and done. … If you don’t bring your A game you’re not going to win.”
Although the Wildcats had balanced scoring, with two players with nine points and another two with eight, none could crack double-digit.
Wharton’s inability to pull out the win and advance to the regional semifinals didn’t dim Reed’s outlook on the season. He was proud of his team’s third straight trip to the playoffs despite some injuries that delayed when the Wildcats were playing at full strength.
“It was a good run,” Reed said. “These girls played so hard.”
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