AUSTIN, Texas -- Celina’s press was the crown jewel that could be worth its weight in gold.
Celina’s diamond-and-one full court and half court defense slowed Lorena enough to allow the Lady Cats to move past Lorena (29-9), 45-32, and into the 3A state final.
“We usually start out with the press every game and adjust from there,” Celina coach Jordan Davis said. “If we can create some turnovers off of it, that’s great for us.”
The press created havoc for Lorena’s offense, accounting for many of Lorena’s 15 turnovers in the game. Celina was able to convert those mistakes into 12 points.
Celina (34-3) jumped out to a quick lead in the first, but hot shooting from Lorena’s Summer Dolezel pulled Lorena within 16-13 after one.
Defense took over for both teams in the second quarter, but Celina’s Kynzie Newman utilized her team’s five-wide, spread offense to find holes and penetrate to finish with 10 points in the first half.
Celina carried it’s momentum into the second half and went with more of a half court set on defense.
Newman finished with a game-high 18 points, including a three-point play in the fourth quarter that would be the nail in Lorena’s coffin. Newman powered in for a layup from the post and drew a foul. After the ball fell through the hoop, Newman let out her emotion with a yell and fist pump.
“I had a feeling it was over,” Newman said. “Walking to the free throw line I heard one of [the Lorena players] go, ‘It’s over.’ So I was like, ‘OK, we’ve got this.’”
Celina advances to the state final Saturday at 10 a.m. against Abilene Wylie, which defeated Liberty Hill 65-52 in its semifinal match.
“They deserve the opportunity to win a state championship," Davis said, "and we’re going to get them ready and see if we can pull one off.”