Three weeks short of a year ago to the day, the Robert E. Lee girls basketball team played host to the Santa Fe Indians in Baytown and were promptly clubbed, 73-31.
However, after the game head coach Robert Robinson cited his pride in his young team’s ability to keep fighting and diving into the bleachers late in a contest clearly out of reach.
Fast forward to Friday night at the same location and in what might be the closest 60-point game if you went by the eye test. the maturing Lady Ganders rolled to a 62-27 win over those same Indians to move to 9-5 overall and record their first District 22-5A win this season (1-4).
Alyssa Ruiz led the REL attack with 18 points while Arcean Burris 10 and Kim Duhon each scored 10 points and Chloe Shelby pitched in with nine points.
Consider that Santa Fe was taller, longer and still had two starters back from that same outfit that clobbered the REL girls, essentially, the Lady Ganders recorded a 79-point turnaround in 344 days and it could have been even more.
“We missed 10 free throws and (12) layups in the first half,” Robinson said. “We got four sophomore starters playing against mostly sophomore. Age-wise, talent-wise, experience-wise, we are the same as them. Friendswood, GCM are much more experienced. You can see the different levels. These are the games we have to win if we expect to make it to the playoffs. This is step one.”
REL lost a chance for a big win Tuesday at Texas City as that game got away from it late. However, this was the ideal way to bounce back.
“We had two starters foul out and had substitutes that didn’t step up like they did tonight,” Robinson said. “We had team meetings Wednesday individually to see where their heads were. That was very productive as you can see.
“This was probably the best team game we’ve played in six games.”
REL led 16-9 after eight minutes and 30-16 at intermission before breaking the game open in the second half.
The Lady Ganders used a mix of inside and outside makes that broke Santa Fe’s back and the barrage continued to a lead of 40 points at one juncture.
“We are living in a world where they want results now and it’s a process,” Robinson said. “We have made progress with the sophomores. Now can you imagine how good we will be as juniors and seniors if they stay together?”
One thing they will have to fix is the continual flurry of missed uncontested, close range shots. This is key when the REL squad is known for being smaller than all of its opponents and those opportunities can come at a premium.
“The process is working and we play better as a team,” Shelby said. “We use what coach gives us and we run with it.
“We get too excited with ourselves and force it with more power than we should. The open layups we work on in practice and should be easy points. It is important because when we play better teams we won’t get those kind of shots. We need to transition better and slow down.”