For three quarters, the Odessa High girls basketball team was in control of the crosstown rivalry game.
Then, the Lady Bronchos had to hold on.
Ultimately, Odessa High did find a way to win, defeating Permian 45-32 Tuesday night at the Permian Fieldhouse in a frantic District 2-6A matchup.
“It was a relentless game,” Odessa High head coach Olivia Pyburn said. “These girls play so hard and they put a lot of emotion into this game with it being a rivalry.”
“In the end, it was a district game and any time we’re able to win on the road is a plus for us.”
After trailing by 21 points at the end of the third quarter, Permian cut the lead back to single digits at nine points with less than four minutes remaining.
However, the Lady Panthers were unable to get any closer.
“We got a late spark but you have to play the whole game,” Permian head coach Angela Braziel-Smith said. “We didn’t make plays like we were capable of.”
The game started off slowly offensively in the first quarter but the outside shot helped Odessa High (17-10, 2-2) get going on offense, finishing with seven made 3-pointers.
Freshman guard Nesha Stephens made three of those shots in the game and finished with a game-high 17 points for Odessa High. Skylar Herrera had 14 for the Lady Bronchos.
“We just wanted to keep pushing and not give up tonight,” Stephens said. “I just kept pushing myself to get where I need to be.”
After building a 13-5 lead after one quarter, the game slowed to an offensive struggle on both sides.
There were only two made field goals in the quarter, a Stephens layup in transition with 3:08 left in the half and a 3-point play from Permian’s Ashton Garner with less than 30 seconds left.
Garner led the Lady Panthers (10-16, 0-4) in scoring with 12 points on the night but Odessa High maintained an 18-10 lead at the break.
“Coach Pyburn told us we needed to execute better,” Herrera said on the halftime adjustments. “Permian gave us a good fight but we stuck to our game plan and kept fighting.”
The message stuck with the Lady Bronchos.
Odessa High scored five quick points within the first 65 seconds of the third quarter and continued to fluster Permian defensively.
Odessa High outscored Permian 16-3 in the third quarter and led by as many as 23 points in the quarter for a 34-11 lead.
“I just told our team at halftime that we weren’t executing very well offensively,” Pyburn said. “We were doing well defensively and that was my challenge to put those two things together.”
Even with the big lead, Permian did not go away.
The Lady Panthers started the quarter on a 10-2 run before a 3-pointer from Melina Escogido put Odessa High back up with less than five minutes left.
Permian came back with a 7-0 run of its own but Odessa High closed the game out at the free throw line, finishing the game 6-of-8 from the charity stripe.
“I just told them that they (Permian) weren’t going to go away,” Pyburn said on the comeback. “We got a little relaxed and felt like we had the game secured. But, Permian did a good job of battling back and we did a good job fighting to the finish.”
“We can build on the comeback and learn from it,” Braziel-Smith said. “We just need to find some girls that are going to step up and be strong from start to finish. We just all have to be on the same page.”
>>Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas