Houston senior Holly Thomas puts up a shot in the first half of the Lady Tigers' district-opening loss Monday to Alton.

CABOOL – The Houston Lady Tigers struggled from the foul line in the most important game of the season.

Alton didn’t.

The Lady Comets went 7-for-8 at the free-throw line the final 1 minute, 16 seconds to upset the Lady Tigers 56-55 Monday afternoon in the first round of the Class 3 District 10 tournament.

The game was rescheduled due to Saturday’s storm that dumped 7 inches of snow in Houston.

The Lady Tigers missed nine of their 14 foul shots, including six that were front ends of 1-and-1s. They desperately needed those points in a back-and-forth game that went down to the wire.

“The free throws hurt us,” Houston coach Brent Kell said.

The third-seeded Lady Tigers played the final minutes without two of their top players. Senior Holly Thomas fouled out with 2:43 remaining, and guard Sarah Pierce was knocked out just 40 seconds later when she collided with teammate Tory Burgess.

Houston led 48-47 on Thomas’ offensive stickback, but she fouled out 17 seconds later and Alton took a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Lady Tigers trailed by four when Kendra Welch hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left. But Houston had no timeouts left to stop the clock.

Kell burnt one to argue Thomas’ final foul and the last when Pierce was injured. Kell said Pierce suffered a concussion.

“I didn’t feel like our post players got a chance to play,” Kell said. “I don’t like to say the officials hurt us, but they did because they didn’t let us play.”

Kell pointed out that his team didn’t help its cause at the line.

“I can’t blame the officials for that,” he said.

Sophomore Erica Keeney scored 16 of her team-high 18 points in the second half. Thomas had 17 and Welch added 11 for the Lady Tigers.

Houston finished its season with a 12-14 record. It was the final game for seniors Thomas, Welch and Megan Kell

“I wasn’t ready to end the season,” Brent Kell said. “We didn’t perform as well as I expected. I think the kids expected more as well.”

Box score

Houston 8 15 15 17 – 55

Alton 7 17 14 18 – 56

HOUSTON – Pounds 2 1-3 5. Burgess 1 0-0 2. Welch 4 1-2 11. Thomas 8 1-5 17. Pierce 1 0-0 2. Keeney 8 2-4 18. 22 5-14.

ALTON – Hower 6 8-9 21. Yardley 0 0-1 0. Miller 1 1-2 3. Bailey 4 2-2 14. See 1 4-8 6. Reynolds 5 0-3 10. Totals 16 15-25 56

3-pointers: Houston 2 (Welch 2); Alton 5 (Bailey 4, Howser).

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