Pantherettes win Back to Back 6A State Basketball titles
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As time ran off the clock a the UIL 6A Girls Basketball Championship game, confetti filled the air in the Alamodome as the Duncanville Pantherettes closed out their second straight title win 76-65 over Cypress Ranch.
“This is a very special team,” junior MVP Zarielle Green said. “We have been through a lot together and to be out on this floor celebrating a State Championship is special.
The Pantherettes came out strong in the first period of play taking a quick lead but could not find answers to Cypress Ranch’s effort leading to a six point deficit at 12-19 at the end of the first. After the first, however, the Pantherettes were sparked by a big 3 point shot from Green to start a 14-3 run ending a drought for the team giving them a 26-24 lead going into the locker room at the half.
“I took my shoes into the locker room at the half,” head coach Cathy Self Morgan said. “They were not sure what I was going to do but I just told them we were in a good place and have great energy. We just needed to clamp down on defense.”
The Pantherettes came out strong in the third as they have in the past games. Junior Aniya Thomas was the spark for the team coming out of the half as she dialed in five 3 pointers from long range helping the Pantherettes quickly pull to a 49-37 lead.
“I was just feeling it tonight,” Thomas said. “I knew they were going in when I released them from my hand. I was just hot tonight.”
Green said she was happy to step aside and allow Thomas the opportunity to give this team a chance to take home the gold.
“Aniya was hitting shots so we wanted to just feed her the ball,” Green said. “Her shots hyped us all up and gave us a whole lot of confidence down the stretch.”
At the close of the game a banner fanned out among the fans celebrating Coach Self-Morgan’s 1100 win. While the team may not have realized this was the case, they are happy to give this to their coach.
“Really, I did not even know this was her 1100 win,” Thomas said. “But this is pretty special that we were able to give her a State Championship to celebrate number 1100.”
The Pantherettes won last year’s State Championship by more than 30 but this year was more challenging. Cypress Ranch’s Ariana Whitfield an SMU signee was also good from behind the arc matching the State Tournament record for 3 point field goals at 8. She finished the night with 32 points. The Pantherettes lead was cut to 64-40 late in the fourth but the Pantherettes kept fighting for the win.
“This team grew up in the fourth period of play,” Self-Morgan said. “They played smart and mature. They played much better than they did in the two losses we have on the season.”
With 45 seconds left on the clock the Pantherettes were able to put the game out of reach as they controlled the ball and took the lead at 72-65 and then forced a few fouls to extend the lead before the buzzer
“We just kept the pedal to the medal the whole time,” Self-Morgan said. “This was about this team believing in themselves.”