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Bailey Guzman dribbles down the court during the Lady Rattlers game against Judson. Guzman, one of two seniors on the team, helped lead San Marcos to their first playoff berth since 2022.
Daily Record Photo by Gerald Castillo

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Ayleceia Pierson fights for control of the ball during the Lady Rattlers game against Judson.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo

Lady Rattlers take Judson to the wire in loss on Senior Night

Thursday, February 8, 2024

The Lady Rattlers left everything on the floor Tuesday night.

San Marcos (20-11, 3-7) took district-leading Converse Judson (28-6, 9-1) to the wire in their final match up of the regular season before turning their focus to San Antonio Clark in the first round of the 2024 UIL Playoffs. The Lady Rattlers kept pace with the Lady Rockets throughout the game’s 32 minutes and had two threes from senior guard Bailey Guzman and junior guard Ayleceia Pierson to extend the game in the clutch before falling 5451.

“I thought we should have won — if we blocked out and if we got a couple more rebounds on some block outs. We had a couple of defensive miscommunications where we blocked each other off of the ball. We don’t usually do that. We knew what they were running and they played zone most of the night. That’s respect to our girls,” head coach Jermaine Ervin said. “For [Judson], district champs, to have to say ‘we have to go zone against y’all,’ that tells me a lot about where we’re at in our program. I just wanted to be positive with our girls and try to get everybody an opportunity to play on senior night. And then, [have the mentality of] let’s go win it. That last play down there, that ball was out of bounds. I didn’t want to harp on it, but three seconds — that’s a lot of time after you’ve already hit two back to back. It would have given us an opportunity to draw something up, but it’s neither here nor there. We’ll take [what we got tonight].”

The Lady Rattlers made their presence known early. San Marcos jumped out to an 8-4 lead through the first half of the first quarter with Guzman contributing two threes and starting hot from beyond the arc. San Marcos was able to carry that momentum throughout the last four minutes of the quarter to hold a 14-9 advantage heading into the second.

Judson had a jab of their own to give to start the second period, opening the quarter on a 6-0 run. San Marcos’ Guzman wasn’t their only player hitting from outside though — freshman guard Rileigh Good and junior guard Ezra Tobias responded with threes of their own to put the Lady Rattlers back up 20-18 midway through the second. Once again the Lady Rockets had a punch to give, responding with an 8-2 run after the pair of threes from the Lady Rattlers to go up 2622. But just like Judson, San Marcos kept responding too. The Lady Rattlers finished the quarter on a 4-0 mini-run in the final minute of the quarter that tied things up at 26-26 at halftime.

The Lady Rockets had a fast start to the third quarter like they did the second, jumping out early with an 8-3 run in the first four minutes of the period to take a 34-29 lead. San Marcos stiffened up defensively for the rest of the quarter, finishing the third on a 5-2 run that cut the Lady Rockets’ advantage to 36-34.

In a defensive start, Judson opened the first half of the fourth quarter 5-2 which built their lead to 41-36. Things picked up offensively in the second half of the quarter, with both teams scoring a combined 28 points in the final four minutes of the game. San Marcos held a 15-13 advantage in the scoring spree, with Guzman and Pierson hitting threes in the final 40 seconds of the game that forced the Lady Rockets to make their free throws and execute inbounds passes to secure their victory 54-51.

San Marcos will face off with reigning UIL 6A state champion San Antonio Clark in the first round of the 2024 UIL Girls Basketball Playoffs.

“Our mentality is go win. Like, we’re not scared of nobody. If you get into the tournament, you gotta play the best sooner or later. You hope not to play the best this early, but you could be outside looking in like we were last year. Thinking to ourselves, ‘oh man, if we would’ve beat Clemens, and we were up by 14, 16 over there.’ Like, we let that slip away [and if not] we’re in the playoffs last year. We let one from bad coaching on my part against New Braunfels last year get away. We let one get away this year,” Ervin said. “So for us to be there, our mentality is we get another week to practice. We get another week together. We get another week to be better – 1% better every single day. That’s our mantra. 1% better, 1% better, 1% better. And that ball falls funny, if we can get in a good situation [we’ll have a shot]. I know who we’re playing and I know how good they are. We respect them, but we gotta go play them. So our overall mentality is we gotta beat them to keep playing. And that’s all it is.”

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