Lady Antler Audrey Robertson, 12, is fouled as she shoots against Veterans Memorial in the Regional Finals at Blossom Athletic center in San Antonio in February.

Christy Dill considers this juncture of the season to be a learning opportunity.

The Lady Antlers basketball coach has built one of the best programs in Region IV during her Tivy tenure, but she knew this season was going to be more challenging than the previous two. The Lady Antlers graduated four seniors (Charli Becker, Peyton Ives, Catherine Kaiser and Katie Harmon) from last year’s squad that went 37-2 and advanced to the state semifinals for the second straight year. Despite these departures, Dill knew she still had plenty of talented players in her program; it was her coaching staff’s responsibility to develop them. The best time to accomplish that goal was before the start of district play.

The season is still early, but through seven games, the Lady Antlers have showed they still have the mettle to compete for another region title. Dill’s teams have won in the past by playing tenacious defense. Her current team is following that formula, limiting opponents to 34.3 points per game.

They lost, 51-46, to Class 6A Smithson Valley in overtime on Tuesday, but still remain 5-2 and recently finished third in the Floresville Tournament last weekend. They open district play on Tuesday at Seguin.

“I have seen a lot of growth,” Dill said. “During the first seven games, I have seen us start to gel. I think the seniors are doing a great job of leading us, being great teammates, being coaches on the court.”

It also helps when two seniors are among the best players in the region. Last season, senior Audrey Robertson earned District 26-5A defensive player of the year honors and was an all-state selection after averaging 10 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 steals per contest. Senior cohort Julia Becker was a first-team, all-district selection and was often asked to defend the opposing team’s best player.

They have been impressive so far this season. Robertson leads the Lady Antlers with 14.9 points per game; Becker is averaging 7.7 points per contest.

“They have been outstanding,” Dill said. “Offensively, they are doing a good job of taking care of the ball and getting people in their spots. Seniors Presleigh (Way) and Liz (Twiss) are also doing a great job of talking to the younger kids and getting them up to varsity level at a quick pace.”

All those players learned an important lesson Tuesday: It’s imperative both Robertson and Becker avoid foul trouble. Both players struggled with fouls against the Rangers (Becker fouled out in the fourth). It’s a big reason why Tivy ultimately fell on the road Tuesday.

Still, Dill didn’t seem too upset over the loss. After all, she entered the season expecting growing pains during the pre-season. She just hopes these learning experiences help the Lady Antlers play their

best basketball in district play.

“We are understanding each other’s strengths, figuring out how to utilize each person’s strengths,” Dill said. “I have seen tremendous improvement in our overall performance in these seven games.”

Tivy boys falls to Smithson Valley

Smithson Valley rode a dominant fourth-quarter performance to a 57-42 victory over Tivy on Tuesday.

The Class 6A Rangers only led 40-38 entering the fourth quarter, but outscored Tivy, 17-4, to cruise to the win.

Senior forward Abraham Viera led the Antlers with 22 points. Jackson Young contributed 11 points and Jackson Johnston added six.

The Antlers will try to rebound at the Tivy Tournament on Friday.

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