By: Eric Horton

The Denver City Fillies accomplished something that 188 other Class 4A schools did not, that is reaching the Girls Class 4A State Tournament. They did this by working hard and believing in themselves and in a program that Coach Bridgforth brought to the table. They got to this point by becoming District 2-4A Co-champs and tearing through the playoffs.  Although they reached this pinnacle for the first time in school history, it was cut short with a loss to San Antonio Veterans Memorial.

In a hard fought state semifinal game, the Fillies took their seventh and final loss of the season to Veterans Memorial 57-51. Veterans Memorial is the largest 4A school in the state tourney and will be heading up to 5A after this last realignment by UIL. In fact Veterans Memorial turned in 1423 in enrollment compared to Denver City’s 487 enrollment on snapshot day.

Obviously Coach Bridgforth didn’t use the excuse of being the smallest school and even the smallest team size and height wise. In the post game press conference, Bridgforth said, “we told them it wouldn’t be easy, it shouldn’t be easy.” When asked about being the smallest 4A school Bridgforth responded, “what we do have is five at a time, five on the floor.”

As the game got underway senior Morgan Dial had back to back three pointers which set them up with an early lead 6-4 with 5:09 in the first period. The Fillies added to the lead with Junior Holly Hemmeline’s two pointer and senior Cassidy Esmerado‘s two free throws bringing the score 10-6 with 3:16 left in the first.

Veterans Memorial went on a 4-0 run tieing the game 10-10 then adding two more points giving them a 12-10 lead. Hemmeline came back down the court with a two point jump shot tieing it back up 12-12 with a 1:30 left in the first. Senior Hailey Henderson gave the Fillies another lead with long two pointer making the score 14-12.

Getting closer to the end of the first period, senior Cassidy Esmerado fouled a Patriot on a good two point shot giving Veterans Memorial a chance at one free throw. It was made and gave the Patriots a three point play the old fashion way and lead 15-14. The Fillies weren’t having it and drove down the court and Hemmeline hit a short jump shot giving them the lead 16-15 ending the first period.

In the second period and two minutes off the clock Veterans Memorial was back on top with a 5-0 run making the score 20-16 in the Patriots favor. Both teams did not score for the next two minutes and five seconds and the Patriots added two more bringing the 22-16 with 3:55 left in the second.

During this four minute 7-0 run, the Fillies were having rebounding issues and turnovers. Fillies senior Arielle Adams finally got on the board with two points getting the Fillies out of the scoreless slump bringing the 18-22 in the Patriots favor.

As the second period began to wind down the Patriots added another four points to extend the score 26-18 in favor of the Patriots. That did not stop the Fillies as Esmerado busted a three shrinking the score 21-26. Fillies Hemmeline added another two points on a layup making it a one possession ball game 23-26. The Fillies ended up fouling one of the Patriots putting them back on the charity stripe and taking advantage of it by making both free throws 23-28. The first half ended with Veterans Memorial on top 28-23.

The beginning of the third period proved great for the Fillies as they went on a quick 4-0 run giving the Patriots just a one point lead. However Veterans Memorial went down the court and threw up a three, extending their lead 31-27. Fillie’s Adams answered with two points after a quick inbounds pass from Dial making it 29-31.

As the third period progressed, there was a lot of defense on both sides of the ball. Veterans Memorial busted down the door with two free throws and another two point shot giving them a 35-29 lead with less than three minutes to go in the third. Adams was fouled on a shot and went to the line and made both shots.

The Patriot went and scored two more and Fillies Hemmeline answered with two also, 33-37 in favor of Veterans Memorial. Pressure was put on the Fillies and the Patriots full court press proved too much for the Fillies causing them to turn the ball over on a ten second half court violation. The Patriots went on a 6-0 run making it 43-33 and the Fillies adding one more bucket before the third was done. Veterans Memorial was up 43-35 at the end of the third.

Beginning in the fourth the Patriots took off on a slow 6-0 run taking more than two minutes off the clock. At the 5:35 mark in the fourth Esmerado busted a three shrinking Memorials lead 49-38. The Patriots then answered with a bucket and extending the lead 51-38. With about 4:30 left in the fourth the Fillies did out score the Patriots 13-6, however Memorial had too many points coming from that early fourth period 6-0 run.

San Antonio Veterans Memorial came out on top over the Denver City Fillies 57-51 in the Girls Class 4A State Semifinals. Although the Fillies fell short, TownTalk Radio is proud of your season and each and every lady and coach.