Iraan sophomore Graycee Morado didn’t shy away from the challenge at hand in the biggest game of her young career on Thursday, Feb. 11 when the Bravettes played Balmorhea (7-9) in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs at Fort Stockton High School.
And her teammates didn’t either.
Madison Harvey, Kailey Rico, Abagail Smith, Dayanara Torres, and Morado scored at least one basket apiece in the third quarter to turn a 15-14 halftime deficit to a 27-21 lead.
Then Morado put the nail in the coffin for her team. The underclassman scored seven of her game-high 13 point in the final quarter of play, leading her team to a 38-18 victory.
Morado’s 13 points is as many as the Bears entire team scored in the final three quarters of play.
Iraan first-year head coach Rick Onofre, who used to be the Iraan High School boys coach, said that Morado’s performance was extraordinary from his perspective and without questions the best performance she has put forth on a basketball court in high school.
“That that was the biggest moment in her career, she came out as a big force,” he said. “She made free throws and posted up successfully and actually played pretty good defense. She probably had double digit rebounds as well.”
Rebounding totals were not kept for the game but the rebounding advantage was evident in the final 16 minutes of play. Onofre stated it’s a mentality and a willingness to fight for a rebound – something his team has done all season.
“We always have good effort on the boards. I mean these girls are they work really, really hard. And we always talk about second effort. Third effort, anybody can give second effort, you know it's that third effort that separates those players and those girls gave us tremendous efforts. Our two seniors (Mariela Santana, Smith), including Gracie as a sophomore, but those two seniors really, really helped us out.”
The Bravettes paired a dominant effort on the boards with a lockdown defense in the second half. Iraan outscored Balmorhea 24-3 in the second half.
The defense helped the Bravettes score transition buckets and ultimately pull away from the Bears late in the third quarter.
Iraan showed unselfish play on the offensive end of the floor as six different players scored at least two points.
Santana had the second-highest scoring total on the team with 10 points.
Rico tallied five points and Madison Harvey netted four points.
The Bravettes made two 3-pointers in the game – one apiece for Morado and Rico – and went 6-of-13 at the free throw line as a team.
The playoff win for Iraan was the first in over eight years for the program.
Iraan (10-12) is scheduled to play the fourth-ranked team in Class 1A in the area round against Veribest (23-1) on Wednesday, Feb. 17 in Garden City. The winner of that game will play the winner of Buena Vista (12-3) and Irion County (17-7) in the quarterfinals, which is the round of 16.