Sports > Schools
Top Ten Celina Sports Stories of 2012: 2. Too Little too late for Celina: Lady Bobcats fall to Abilene Wylie
AUSTIN -- The Lady Bobcats held Abilene Wylie guard Peyton Little to just 10 points in the opening half of Saturday’s Class 3A State Championship Game.
Little erupted for 23 points over the final 16 minutes though, clinching Wylie’s second straight state title (59-45) and earning the game’s MVP honors for a second consecutive year.
“Last year was a relief,” said Tri Danley, Wylie head coach. “This year, I’m just excited.”
The game marked Wylie’s third consecutive appearance in the championship game after losing to Liberty-Eylau (70-68) in 2009-10 and beating Lovejoy (66-58) in last year’s matchup.
“I know nothing but state tournaments,” Little said.
Although the Lady Bobcats were in search of their first state title on Saturday, Celina began the game looking like the more experienced team.
Freshman KJ Stastny paced Celina in the early going with six points in the first quarter and 10 points in the opening half. Stastny’s inside scoring, coupled with Little’s struggles in the first half, put the game at 11-11 entering the second frame. The Lady Bobcats would continue their relentless pressure on Little in the second quarter, building a four-point lead on a three from senior Presley Stastny with 2:23 remaining in the second quarter.
Failures at the free throw line kept Celina from widening its lead though as the Lady Bobcats shot just 36.8 percent from the charity stripe after missing 12-of-19 attempts.
“Free throws were big,” said Jordan Davis, Celina head coach. “We just didn’t knock them down tonight.”
Little and the Lady Bulldogs would make Celina pay for those free throw struggles, with the senior guard scoring four straight points to knot the game at 23 apiece with 57 seconds left in the half.
Then with just two seconds remaining and KJ Stastny at the line for a 1-and-1, the game took a quick turn for the worse for Celina.
Stastny missed the first attempt and was whistled for a foul on Wylie guard Hailey Brown with 0.4 seconds left in the half to give Brown a pair of free throws. Brown converted on 1-of-2 at the line to give the Lady Bulldogs a 24-23 advantage at the break.
“There was a lot of pressure all over the place,” Davis said. “Defense apparently wins championships and that’s what happened today.”
Wylie extended its advantage to nine points at the 4:37 mark of the third quarter when guard Bailey Turner converted an and-1 layup and proceeded to bury the foul shot. A layup from Presley Stastny, for two of her team-high 17 points, ended Wylie's short run and allowed senior Amanda Gerths to trim the deficit to just one with a layup at the 1:55 mark of the third.
After getting back to 31-30, the Lady Bobcats failed to contain Little and allowed the senior to hit two straight shots in the final 37 seconds. The latter was a long 3-pointer with four seconds left in the third to put Wylie ahead, 36-30, entering the fourth.
“It just didn’t go our way,” said Kynzie Newman, Celina senior guard.
Newman, the team’s leading scorer, was held to five points in the contest after attempting only seven field goals in the game.
The captain credited Brown’s defense for her lack of scoring in Saturday’s title game.
“She made it tough to get open,” Newman said. “But I had to deal with it.”
Danley noted that Brown’s defensive performance on Newman was characteristic of her entire season.
“She’ll guard anyone,” he said. “And she isn’t afraid of anybody.”
Things went from bad to worse for the Lady Bobcats to start the fourth quarter.
Already leading by six points, Wylie buried a crucial three on the team’s opening possession of the quarter as reserve Taylor Rickman found the bottom of the net on a corner triple. The shot put the Lady Bulldogs ahead, 39-30, with 7:49 left in the game and ultimately proved to be the dagger for Celina.
Little would get to pad her stats in the final minutes of the fourth with Celina forced to foul late in the game.
The senior hit 15-of-18 free throws and ended the day with a game-high 33 points.
“[Little] is obviously a good one if she is going to play for the defending national champions (Texas A&M),” Davis said.
After Celina gave up on intentionally fouling Wylie, Little took the ball up the floor on the team’s final possession and tossed it into the air as the final seconds ticked off the clock, giving the Lady Bulldogs their second straight state championship.
“The feelings and the happiness in the locker room are all that matters to me,” Danley said.
The loss puts Celina’s final mark at 34-4 after the team went undefeated in District 10-3A.
“This part isn’t any fun,” Davis said. “But it doesn't take away from the year we had; we already surpassed a lot of peoples’ expectations.”