Lady Rattlers shooting for return to playoffs
The Sharyland Lady Rattlers played like they were unbeatable Tuesday night. Their complete domination of the Valley View Lady Tigers, outscoring them by nearly a 4-1 margin, and their ability to pretty much score at will made it look at times like they were the only players on the court.
While Sharyland’s 65-18 District 31-5A win over Valley View was impressive, it was only the Lady Rattlers’ second win against three losses thus far in district play. Having opened their district schedule with losses to Edinburg Vela, Veterans Memorial and Roma put Sharyland into a hole and they are now doing their best to climb out. While back-to-back wins against Sharyland Pioneer and Valley View are a step in the right direction, Sharyland head coach Dale Whitaker knows that there is still a lot of work to do to avoid missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.
“We drew the toughest three teams the first three games,” explained Whitaker. “So looking at it we knew we were going to have a tough time the first three games but we were hopeful that we could steal at least one of those games but it didn’t work out that way. But now we’ve won two in a row and we’re playing Rio Grande Friday night so if we can make it three in a row we’ll be okay.”
With the top four teams in each district qualifying for the playoffs, Sharyland missed out on post-season play last year when they ended the regular season in a three-way tie for fourth place but lost their tie-breaking playoff game.
Lady Rattlers’ junior post player Maddie Garza is determined not to let that happen again.
“Coach Whitaker told us last year that out of his 20-something years of coaching he had only one team not make the playoffs,” said Garza. “So last year we were the second team. I don’t want this team to be the third.”
With this being the first year of Sharyland being a two high school town, many former Lady Rattlers players are now Lady Diamondbacks. With their first head-to-head matchup last Friday, Whitaker and Garza both shared what it was like to go up against their former players or teammates.
“It’s been difficult because we see those girls and they’re friends,” said Whitaker. “Those were my kids who I’ve coached since they were freshmen. So, while it’s hard to play against them we went over there and did the best we could. We did win the game 35-30 and then we hugged each other and we went on from there.”
“The atmosphere was really energetic so it was a lot of fun,” added Garza. “Games like that are fun because the energy is going and everybody is all pumped up. It was a big game…. I love every single one of them out there, but having to go up against them was the hard part.”
Whitaker said the split did not have much effect on the varsity team, “but at the sub-varsity level we lost a lot. For some reason it seems as if a lot of our younger kids live in that part of Sharyland so we lost a huge amount of young talent to Pioneer.”
Tonight the Lady Rattlers will be traveling to Rio Grande City to play the other Lady Rattlers in the final game of the first round before taking on the Vela Lady Sabercats (away Jan. 20), the VMHS Lady Patriots (home Jan. 23) and the Roma Lady Gladiators (away Jan. 30) in the second round.