Written by Corbett Smith
Lovejoy girls reach 3A final in search for third overall state title this year
Basketball team goes for school’s third girls team championship this year
AUSTIN — Lovejoy has won girls cross country and volleyball titles this season.
And at 10 a.m. Saturday against Abilene Wylie in the Class 3A basketball final, Lovejoy will try to win its third championship in girls athletics this school year.
That might not be unheard of in Class 3A athletics, where a talented group of athletes can make a difference in a myriad of sports. But Lovejoy’s situation is a little different.
The basketball team doesn’t have a single member of the varsity teams that have won titles.
Lovejoy sat near the top of the Class 3A cut-off in last year’s realignment, with 948 students. The growing community is likely to be put into 4A in the next realignment.
First-year Lovejoy basketball coach Kelly Connor laughed when asked whether a bevy of 6-foot volleyball players could have made a difference for her squad.
“It would have been nice,” Connor said.
But in reality, they haven’t been needed.
Connor inherited a senior-laden roster after previous coach Courtney Pool left in May, following her husband, Allen baseball coach Paul Pool, to South Dakota.
Four of Lovejoy’s top five scorers are seniors — guards Millie Rivera (15.1 ppg.), Katherine McBride and Kathryn Odom along with post Courtney Smith.
But a run to the state title wasn’t exactly what Connor had in mind when she took the job.
“Not at all,” Connor said.
Lovejoy (29-10) lost five of its first 10 games, a combination of a tough nondistrict schedule, the team getting used to Connor’s new system, and the incorporation of four freshmen on the varsity roster.
Now winners of 16 straight heading into the matchup with Abilene Wylie, Lovejoy gelled after its choppy start, going undefeated in District 11-3A.
Wylie, with star guard Peyton Little, is the last team to beat Lovejoy, 77-66, in their holiday tournament.
“It just took a little time for us to get to know each other,” Connor said.