By Kailey Franklin, Alexis Galarza and Danielle Scott Posted March 10, 2023
After losing to the Fernley Vaqueros twice in the regular season and once in Regionals, the Lady Bucks met face-to-face with them in the state championship game and they pulled out a win 58-53.
“It felt so amazing to win state and I was so happy I got to play with the best girls for my last year,” said Sydnee Pettis. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve had in my high school career and it will be something I will never forget.”
Throughout the season all the girls created strong bonds after facing so many difficulties together.
“I think that the relationship that the girls have with each other was special, like I said they were a true family, there was no drama, they all loved each other they came to practice every day they worked hard, they stuck up for each other and they just really stayed together,” said Cabatbat.
Having only lost when playing the Fernley High School Vaqueros, it was a great triumph for them to not let the losses get to them and to keep their morale and energy up until the last buzzer.
“The best part of the game was the last eleven seconds of the game,“ said Bryce Brinkerhoff. “As soon as I saw the eleven seconds I knew we had the win which was the best high school experience I have had.”
Their first game against Fernley was on the Vaqueros’ home turf, and they lost (75-68). However, by the next game, they had to bring up sophomore Khlloe Shorey and junior Katlyn Gomez from the JV team because several people on varsity were injured.
“The biggest obstacle was of course throughout the season only having ten players, sicknesses and injuries just really limited our numbers, so there were many practices that we were not able to go full court because we didn’t have 10 players, so that was a huge battle that we fought all year,” said Cabatbat.
Despite all the obstacles, the girls were still able to provide a game for fans that was full of excitement and anticipation.
“It was a very intense game,” said fan Amanda Franklin. “I have watched many games this season and being able to see the girls work so hard to reach their end goal was amazing. It was the most exciting game I have ever watched it felt like the crowd was on fire and emotions were flying through the air.”
The girls had a tough season with many injuries and illnesses. They continued to work hard at practice and improve their skills to be able to shut Fernley down in the state tournament. Belen Barocio was one of the players to face an injury; she stressed her meniscus.
“The hardest part of playing with an injury was having to sit on the bench and see all my teammates play so well,” said Belen Barocio.
The girls defeated the Spring Creek Spartans the year before in Las Vegas for the state final and are now back-to-back champions for the first time in Lowry varsity girl’s basketball history.
“Winning the state championship this year again felt like deja vu from last year, all the excitement and smiles on everyone’s faces was the exact same,” said back-to-back state champion Kailey Franklin.
Coach Cabatbat made her return to coaching this year after taking eight years off of coaching. She coached with her dad Vince Mendiola, and assistant coaches Debbie Connors and Alyssa Jones.
“The coolest part was getting to do it with coach Cabatbat both times,” said Jones. “I’m really grateful to be a part of an amazing coaching staff and assist coach Cabatbat.”
Alyssa Jones played on coach Cabatbat’s team when they won a state title in 2014 at Lawlor events center as well.
“It was a really cool experience,” said Jones. “It kind of felt like a full circle moment in my basketball career. Not many people get to win a state championship as a player and even fewer get to do it as a coach so I feel pretty lucky to have been able to do both.”
With many changes on the court and in who could play, the Lady Bucks had to constantly find their footing and managed to stay strong and improve no matter the obstacle. They created new plays and new defenses in order to strike Fernley when they met again at the state game.
The Varsity girls were always on top of their game, in control of the court, and ready to bring the energy as soon as the ball dropped from tip-off.
Though it will be the seniors’ last year at Lowry, they are an important part of the Lady Bucks’ success and the confidence of the varsity girls for years to come.
“I’m going to miss seeing my teammates every day, I grew up playing basketball with them,” said Kailey Franklin. “I’m also going to miss playing with a home crowd.”
“The most memorable part that I would have to say is watching Bryce do her pitch-perfect dance/ song every time before we played,” said Hernandez. “And of course winning state again back-to-back.”
The girls were able to have such a successful season due to their character and personalities. They continued to work hard despite the many challenges that were brought forth.
Mrs. Lisa Scott was also one of the many fans who followed the girls on the road to state.
“The girls always left everything on the floor, their teamwork, effort and enthusiasm for the game made them super fun to watch,” Ms. Scott.