By JUSTIN RAINS
The Slocum girls’ basketball team knew it’d have to climb over some heavyweights if it wanted to play for a state title in Austin next weekend.
Tuesday, the eighth-ranked Lady Mustangs shed the first, outlasting No. 5 Kerens, 95-90, in double overtime at Tyler Junior College in the regional quarterfinals.
To advance to the regional final, the Lady Mustangs will have to do something no one else has been able to do this season: Beat No. 2 Martinsville.
The two teams face off in the first of two Class 1A, Division I Region III semifinals at 10 a.m. Friday, back at TJC’s Wagstafff Gym.
The Lady Pirates are 34-0 and coming off of a 50-37 win over Evadale in their own regional quarterfinal.
The Lady Mustangs’ win Tuesday was record-setting, as Slocum’s 95 points were the second most scored by a girls’ team in this year’s playoffs. Only Lipan’s 97 points in its 1A, Division II area round win over Bynum topped the Lady Mustangs.
Slocum got the win behind the shooting of Valerie Larkin, who scored a team-high 40 points — 34 of which came in the second half and overtimes.
Larkin hit a three-pointer late in the second overtime to make it 83-80 Slocum, a lead the Lady Mustangs would never give up.
Kerens twice cut the deficit to one point, only to watch Brice Sizemore sink free throws to keep Slocum in front.
Sizemore finished with 16 points, while both Jordan Ives and Landry Lane had 14 and Kelsee Webb had 11.
Taylor Ames led Kerens with 42, while Cambree Betts and Breanna Wells each had 14.
Slocum advanced to the regional tournament last year, falling in the semifinals to state-bound Martin’s Mill.
If the Lady Mustangs want a rematch of that game, they’ll first have to get past Martinsville. Martin’s Mill — ranked No. 1 in the state — faces No. 20 Evadale in the second semifinal at noon Friday.