Langham Creek eliminates state-ranked Seven Lakes from playoffs

Langham Creek coach Annette Steward said someone referred to her team as a giant slayer going into the season.

She like the idea then – and she’s living the reality now.

The Lobos knocked off a state-ranked opponent for the second straight round Tuesday, upsetting No. 6 Seven Lakes 50-46 at the Merrell Center to reach their first regional tournament in school history.

“I’m so happy,” said Kayla Owens, fighting back tears of joy.

“I’ve never experienced this before. I’m so grateful and thankful for everybody who’s ever believed in me and my team.”

Langham Creek (29-7) will face Clear Springs in the Region III-6A semifinals Friday back at the Merrell Center.

Seven Lakes (33-4) ends its season in the regional quarters.

This playoff run is particularly emotional for Owens, a UCLA signee who missed last season with a knee injury.

Now she’s leading an historic run in the Lobos’ first playoff trip in nine years.

“I wanted this really bad,” said Owens, who finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks.

“I’ve never wanted something in basketball so bad before.”

Steward’s desire ran equally as deep.

The veteran is in her 16th season at Langham Creek, and she picked up her 300th career win in November.

This is her first trip to the regional tourney.

“It’s emotional because this team has worked so hard, the staff has worked hard, and it’s a moment that I’m so happy they’re getting to experience,” Steward said. “They’re a good group of kids, and they deserve it.”

The Lobos, 17-6A’s second seed, ousted No. 14 Hightower 67-53 last week.

They weren’t intimidated Tuesday either, using a 7-0 run to end the first quarter to take a 14-10 lead into the second.

An Owens 3-pointer gave them a 19-13 lead early in the second quarter, then Seven Lakes found its stride, keeping Langham Creek outside and running its quick-pass offense to perfection.

A three-point play by Priscilla Williams gave it a 27-24 lead.

Briley Perkins cut it to 27-26 at halftime, then helped the Lobos steal the momentum by continuing to attack in the third, which Langham Creek didn’t do in the first half, with only one free throw.

“That’s part of their defense,” Steward said. “That’s why they’re so good on defense. They make you take outside jump shots. They do a great job of switching and bumping off of screens and everything.”

Perkins hit a 3, then drove inside for a layup, and Owens hit a step-back trey for a 38-31 lead late in the third, but Seven Lakes didn’t stop playing, coming back for a 46-44 lead with 1:07 left in the game.

Then it was a matter of who could inbound and advance the ball.

Langham Creek emerged victorious on layups by Owens and Perkins, and two Owens free throws in the final 51 ticks.

“Seven Lakes is a good team, and they really made us step up (Tuesday),” Owens said.

Cypress Ranch 76, Katy 56: Didi Richards scored 22 points, and the Mustangs elevated their efforts after a tight first half in the late game at Merrell, sending them to the Region III-6A tourney.

Ariana Whitfield added 20 points for Cy Ranch, which trailed in the first half and led only 37-34 at halftime.

“We’re known for our defense, and in the first half we weren’t playing as aggressive as we usually do,” Richards said. “So second half we came out here and showed that we’re a defensive team.”

The Mustangs (29-6) will face Clear Creek (23-9) on Friday in the semis.

“This is exciting,” Richards said. “I haven’t done it (made the regional tourney) since my freshman year. We always get stuck in this (third) round, so I’m happy we finally get to advance.”