By Clay Whittington
Belton Journal

The Lady Tigers girls basketball season came to a close Tuesday evening, when they suffered a 64-13 defeat at playoff-bound Killeen.

Belton was held scoreless in the first quarter and trailed 28-7 at halftime.

Emma Flory, a freshman, was responsible for the Lady Tigers’ first four points of the game, connecting on a 3-pointer to make the score 24-4 before teammate Leilah Maldonado’s 3-pointer trimmed the deficit to 17 points, 24-7.

Maldonado went on to score all four of Belton’s third-quarter points to finish with seven points. Mykaela Johnston scored the Lady Tigers’ remaining two points.

Due to inclement weather creating icy conditions, last Tuesday’s District 22-5A game at Waco was postponed until Saturday, causing the Lady Tigers to play their final three games within a five-day span.

Prior to facing the Lady Lions on the road, Belton completed its home schedule against Lake Belton, and the Lady Tigers were quickly overwhelmed.

The Lady Broncos jumped out to a 13-2 advantage and led 21-12 at halftime before a 22-point third quarter propelled them to a 56-32 victory.

Belton guard Trinity Espitia scored a team-high 17 points in the defeat, while Maldonado and Alivia Jackson added seven points and five points, respectively.

The Lady Tigers returned to the court less than 18 hours later to make up its game at Waco and were unable to withstand an early run by the Lady Lions, who were responsible for 29 of the game’s first 33 points before winning 78-25.

Maldonado finished with eight points, while Kaylie Pietras had seven points and Flory scored four points to match Espitia’s offensive output.

The outcomes leave Belton’s final record at 3-24 and 1-13 in district.

Killeen Ellison won the district championship with a 12-2 record, while Killeen and Killeen Shoemaker follow at 11-3. Killeen Chaparral and Waco are tied with 7-7 records, forcing a playoff play-in game. Lake Belton (6-8), Belton and Waco University (1-13) round out the field.

The Tigers improved to 2-2-1 in District 22-5A on Tuesday, when they traveled to Killeen and earned a 3-0 win.

After a scoreless first half, Belton gained an advantage thanks to an own goal, and it propelled the Tigers to the win.

Belton will look to maintain the momentum Friday, when it hosts Chaparral. Then, the Tigers play at Shoemaker on Tuesday.

The Lady Tigers were also involved in a scoreless first half against visiting Killeen on Tuesday, but Makenna Morrow’s goal gave Belton all the separation it needed in a 1-0 victory.

The Lady Tigers travel to Chaparral on Friday and host Shoemaker on Tuesday.

Belton and Lake Belton will each travel to tournaments next weekend for the first games of the new season.

The Lady Tigers will take part in the two-day McGregor tournament beginning Feb. 17, and the Lady Broncos will travel to the three-day Austin Bowie tournament on Feb. 16.

Lake Belton’s final tune-up is Tuesday, when it hosts Georgetown at 7 p.m.

Belton concludes its preseason schedule Saturday, scrimmaging against Elgin and Cedar Park Vista Ridge.

The Broncos and Tigers are closing in on opening day with only a few scrimmages remaining in their preseason schedules.

Lake Belton will travel for a pair of scrimmages against Round Rock McNeil and Leander Rouse on Saturday before hosting Round Rock Cedar Ridge on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Broncos’ final tune-up for their season opener is set for Feb. 17, when they travel to scrimmage Austin Westwood.

Lake Belton’s opens its regular-season schedule Feb. 23 at the three-day Bryan tournament.

Belton begins play on the same day at the Pflugerville tournament, and the Tigers have three remaining opportunities to prepare.

In a change to the original schedule, Belton will travel to Brenham on Saturday for a scrimmage before scrimmaging at Hutto and Georgetown East View on Monday and Feb. 17, respectively.