Beeville Lady Trojan coach Felicia Ramirez got all of three words into her sentence before she couldn’t hold back the tears anymore.
She was trying to describe what the 2020-21 season meant to her personally when her voice cracked and the tears started streaming down her mask-covered cheeks.
“It was a ... special one,” Ramirez said as the tears flowed following her team’s gut-wrenching 50-48 loss to Navarro in a 4A area championship game in Jourdanton Feb. 19.
“This group of girls, they really bought into what I was trying to teach them,” Ramirez continued. “They’ve meant a lot to me and I think that’s what makes this so hard.
“It’s been special. If I could describe it in one word, it would be special.
“They became a family to me, especially with my kids. They love my kids. It was just special.”
Beeville’s “special” season ended in heartbreaking fashion with Navarro hitting a buzzer-beater as time expired to cap off one of the most exciting contests of Beeville’s truncated season.
Navarro led 11-10 after one and 25-19 at halftime, and held a 28-23 lead midway through the third quarter.
Beeville (14-7) owned the final minutes of the third, though. The Lady Trojans scored six straight points down the stretch of the period, a run that included a deep 3-pointer from Aaralyn Del Bosque with a second remaining that gave her team a 29-28 lead going to the fourth quarter.
“The girls made plays,” Ramirez said about how Beeville dug out of the hole in the third quarter against the state-ranked Panthers. “I told them at halftime, especially Aaralyn, I told her, ‘Aaralyn, you’ve got to be a shooter.’ She shot the ball and she did very well that second half.
“Then they got that confidence and I think that’s what they needed. It obviously produced for us.”
That confidence carried over into the fourth quarter with Beeville scoring the first nine points of the period to make it 15 in a row and go in front 38-28.
Then, despite Beeville’s best efforts, the pace got frantic.
And the game got physical.
“I mean, we’re used to playing physical, but it’s just hard whenever the refs see it on one end but they don’t see it on the other,” said Ramirez, who, on several occasions, loudly voiced her displeasure on the sideline with the lack of foul calls. “It gets into the girls’ minds. It starts to become a mind game for the kids.
“We always tell them that you can’t worry about what the refs call, you still have to finish your shots, but we’re talking about 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids, they’re going to get frustrated and they’re going to do what kids do.”
Navarro chipped away at Beeville’s lead down the stretch, and with 37 seconds left, scored the game-tying hoop underneath as Beeville was whistled for a foul to give the Lady Panthers an and-one.
Navarro rebounded the missed free throw, but, after a timeout, turned it over to give Beeville the ball back with 23 seconds left.
Ramirez drew up a play in a timeout that had the ball in the hands of either Carrah Davis or Del Bosque, but, ultimately, Jaida Gonzales took what would be Beeville’s final shot with a runner in the lane.
“We were looking to get it into Carrah’s hands and have her penetrate, and if they stopped her, we were trying to get a pass out to Aaralyn for the 3,” Ramirez said. “We just didn’t execute it the right way.”
After Gonzales’ miss, an errant Lady Panther pass went sailing out of the bounds, which momentarily deflated Navarro and gave hope to Beeville.
But the pass was ruled to have been tipped by Beeville, giving the ball back to the Lady Panthers.
“I saw purple hands hit the ball,” Ramirez said, lamenting the call. “Carrah says she didn’t touch it. It was just frustrating.”
Frustration turned into heartache when, on the ensuing possession, Navarro’s Haleigh Ortiz scored as the horn sounded to give the Lady Panthers the win.
The Lady Trojans finished the game 18 of 50 from the field, including 8 of 20 from long range, but they were just 4 of 14 at the free-throw line.
Del Bosque and Davis finished as the team’s leading scorers with 10 points apiece.
Davis also had four rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Del Bosque added three boards and five steals.
Cylee Lopez, who saw limited minutes because of foul trouble, had eight points and three assists.
Camryn Longoria had a team-best 12 boards to go with six points, while Asia Molina added six points, three rebounds and three steals.