Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Abilene Wylie defeats Celina to win second straight Class 3A title
AUSTIN — Trailing by three points at halftime, Celina was in good shape against defending champion Abilene Wylie on Saturday. The Bobcats’ best player had only five points, and the team had missed seven of eight free throws. Things seemingly could only get better.
But things got dramatically worse. Senior Kynzie Newman never got going, Celina continued to miss foul shots, and Wylie’s Peyton Little got on track. So instead of Celina celebrating its first state title in girls basketball, Wylie won its second straight Class 3A crown, 59-45, at the Erwin Center.
“They fought hard, but sometimes you can’t put it in the bucket,” Celina coach Jordan Davis said. “This part isn’t any fun, but that doesn’t take away from the things they’ve done.”
Celina (34-4), making only its third appearance in the state tournament, went deeper than any team in school history. But the Bobcats’ inexperience was no match for Wylie’s tournament savvy.
The Bulldogs (36-5), in their third straight final, kept Newman in wraps as Little took control. She earned another MVP selection, finishing with 33 points — 23 in the second half — and six rebounds.
“We felt all year that we were the team to beat,” Wylie coach Tri Danley said. “I think our experience and the fact that we’ve been here two years in a row played a huge part. The kids have been here before; they’ve been in this situation.”
Newman, a key player for four years, was determined to leave with a state title before heading to Abilene Christian.
But with Wylie guard Hailey Brown applying constant pressure, Newman got off only seven shots. She was held scoreless in the second half, finishing with five points.
“She was pretty quick, so she stayed on me the whole game,” Newman said of Brown. “It made it tough to get open, but I had to deal with it.”
Celina got a big performance by freshman K.J. Stastny, who scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Her senior sister, Presley, scored 17 points, and Amanda Gerths was strong inside with six points and six rebounds. Little was the only Wylie player in double figures.
The teams were relatively even in most statistical categories except for free throws, where Wylie held an 11-point advantage.
The Bulldogs made 18 of 23 foul shots, led by Little, who was 15-of-18. Celina was 7-of-19 from the line. That was probably nerves, considering the Bulldogs were 15-of-21 in the semifinal against Lorena.
“Free throws are big,” Davis said. “We hit some big free throws Thursday, kind of kept our lead. We just didn’t knock them down today.”
Celina led 23-19 after Presley Stastny made a 3-pointer with 2:23 left in the first half. Wylie scored the final five points of the half but couldn’t shake the Bobcats until early in the fourth quarter. Little’s 3-pointer gave Wylie a 48-36 lead with 4:54 remaining.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Little said. “It’s amazing, I don’t know anything but state championships.”