AUSTIN, Texas -- With about 45 seconds left in Rockwall’s 4A state semifinal game, senior center Alyssa Lang sat on the bench with tears rolling down her face.
Lang exited with over four minutes left in the game after picking up her fifth foul, having no control over what could have been the last game of her high school career.
Her tears, however, were tears of joy as her teammates rallied around her to finish out Rockwall’s 48-35 win over Victoria East (40-3), giving Lang one more game.
“She’s been the rock of our team,” senior guard Kayla Smith said. “For her to go out fouling out -- that’s not right. She deserves to have another chance to play. We decided that we were going to come together like all year and fight for another day, and so we play on Saturday.”
Lang finished with nine points in the game, but it was Paige Turner’s night to shine and pick up the points that were denied Lang by early fouls.
Turner finished with a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds.
Rockwall coach Jill McDill said the team just found a way to win.
“We talked about it even before the game," McDill said. "This year we’ve had a lot of things that were struggles and fights, and these girls have found ways to win. Alyssa wasn’t on the court and other people had to step up.”
Rockwall also fought through very physical play by Victoria East, keeping emotions in check and continuing to go to the basket. Rockwall attempted just seven 3-pointers on the night and failed to hit any until there was 7:20 left in the game.
Victoria East got within five points after three, but a 3-pointer by Ellen Baker -- her only basket of the game -- started a Rockwall run that gave it some much-needed separation in the fourth quarter.
“That’s the work of a great team, when you have several people that can step up and do different things for you,” McDill said. “You don’t just have to stop one person, it’s the whole team.”
Mansfield Summit is the next to have a shot at Rockwall (34-7) in a game that will determine which side of Dallas the state gold medals will call home. The 4A state final tips at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Honestly, I don’t know right now what the game plan is,” McDill said. “All I know is we get to play on Saturday.”
Lang -- and the entire Rockwall team -- will have one more game this year to go out the only way they can imagine -- as state champs.