Laredo, Texas – The Lady Rattlers’ last regular-season game didn’t change their pace of the turnaround team they’ve become through their journey toward clinching a spot in the Heartland Conference Tournament, as they cruised to a 75-63 victory over Texas A&M International on Saturday.

With a season start of 1-9, some may not have thought St. Mary’s (13-15, 8-4 in conference) would be a contender for the conference tournament. But those people didn’t know the Lady Rattlers.

As conference play started, the Rattlers won three straight to spend time as the No. 1 team and have stayed among the top since, as if they never had opening kinks and jitters with a cast of new players to begin with. Now with the last conference game in the books, St. Mary’s will head into the tournament with the boost of a win as its final prep as it overtook the Dustdevils (11-15, 3-9 in conference) by double-digit points Saturday.

Just as the team gained more experience as the season went on, Kathryn Galindo (So., San Antonio) followed suit to transform into one of the Rattlers’ leading scorers after seeing limited playing time at the start of the year.

Saturday proved this as she led the Rattlers with 14 points and six rebounds, going 5 of 8 from the floor. Senior DeAnna Patterson’s (Converse, Texas) four years of playing time has showed this season as she pulled away with 11 points that included two 3-pointers. Bria Bell (So., San Antonio) also came away with 11 points and Liz Boyd (Jr., San Antonio) added another 10.

Just shy of making Saturday a five-woman double-digit game, freshman Morgan Pullins (Franklin, Mich.) had nine points.

The Rattlers started the game on top to pull away with a 12-point lead 10 minutes in. But the Dustdevils weren’t ready to throw in the towel so easily, creeping up and snatching the lead with the help of Samantha Chacon, who had 23 points for the night to end the half down 35-30.

It only took the Rattlers four minutes into the last half to stomp Texas A&M International’s run at the bucket, however, retaking control of the lead they would never let up. Patterson’s total 11 points all came in the second half to charge the Rattlers to the victory.

In succeeding in improving their record as much as possible before the season’s end, the Rattlers hold the No. 4 rank in conference that guarantees them a chance to prove how far they’ve come this season.

The Heartland Conference Tournament will run next Friday-Saturday in Wichita, Kan., home of the top-seeded Newman Jets. The tournament pairings are expected to be released Sunday.

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