Written by Matt Wixon
Canyon mounts second-half comeback to eliminate McKinney North and take 4A title
AUSTIN — With four minutes left in the third quarter, McKinney North had extended its lead to nine as it walked off the court for a timeout. It was difficult for the players to resist looking up at the scoreboard to see how close they were to a dream finish.
And then the dream slipped away at the Frank Erwin Center.
Canyon, a school that has been to the state tournament 24 times, soured McKinney North’s tourney debut by rallying for a 49-42 victory in the Class 4A title game.
“I think Canyon just got on a run and we couldn’t slow them down,” said senior guard Mikaehla Connor, who led McKinney North with 13 points and five rebounds. “We just couldn’t fight back when they made every single free throw.”
Canyon (34-4), which won its eighth state title since 2000, made its final 11 free throws during a 16-6 run to close the game. That completed a dramatic reversal against McKinney North (29-5), which seemed in control when it led 30-21 after Chanterria Jackson’s steal and layup with 4:05 left in the third.
McKinney North’s pressure defense was dictating a fast pace at that point.
“McKinney North is really good. They’re well-coached and they do a great job in their run-and-jump defense,” Canyon coach Joe Lombard said. “It got us out of a rhythm and it made it hard for us to execute.”
But then McKinney North went cold from the field, making just two of its next 12 shots while also committing five turnovers during a six-minute stretch. Canyon began getting the ball inside to senior Madison Parker, who led all scorers with 18 and was named the game’s MVP, and McKinney North fouls began a parade to the free-throw line.
McKinney North fell behind, 45-38, before Connor scored on a baseline drive with 35 seconds left. McKinney North forced a turnover to get the ball back and Connor’s layup cut the margin to 45-42 with 16 seconds left, but Parker clinched the game with two free throws.
“Even with the loss,” McKinney North coach Michael Oldham said, “I think people had to like what they saw from the girls in their intensity and their never-quit attitude.”