SAN ANTONIO – For a half, the Judson Rockets almost could touch the brass ring.in the Class 6A girls basketball state semifinals Friday night at the Alamodome.
But in the span of a few minutes in the third quarter, defending state champion Duncanville broke away and secured a tougher-than-expected 53-41 victory over the Rockets.
The loss ended a season to remember for Judson, which finished 28-7 and advanced to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
"I couldn't be more proud of these girls," Rockets coach Triva Corrales said. "They tried to knock off this giant. They gave it everything they had. They just fell a little bit short and kind of ran out of gas.
"They're a great team. Hats off to Duncanville. They deserved it, but I couldn't be more proud of our girls. They laid it all on the line. They worked so hard for me, and I'm so appreciative of that."
The victory was the 77th in 79 games for the Pantherettes, who have won nine state championships, including three in the past five years.
Duncanville (38-2) will play Cypress Ranch (32-6) for the state title at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome. Cypress Ranch beat Pflugerville 70-53 in Friday’s first 6A semifinal.
The Pantherettes led only 25-24 at the half, but outscored the Rockets 15-4 in the third quarter to take control of the game. Judson didn't score its first point of the period until Desiree Lewis hit the first of two free throws with 5:04 left. The Rockets went the entire third quarter without scoring a field goal. The teams played to a 13-13 stalemate in the final period.
"We didn't come out and execute," Judson sophomore guard Kyra White said. "Just didn't do what our assignment was. We didn't get back on defense."
White's assessment of the game squared with Corrales' take on the pivotal third quarter. The Rockets trailed only 31-27 when the Pantherettes finished the period on a 9-1 run that put them up 40-28 heading into the fourth.
Junior forward Zarielle Green, who led Duncanville in scoring, drained a 3-pointer and scored another basket during that span to put the Pantherettes up by 11 (38-27).with 2:12 left in the third quarter. Duncanville led by as many as 17 points in the final quarter.
"Their transition kind of hurt us," Corrales said. "We weren't getting back like we were in the first half. That was really it and rebounding. They're a great rebounding team."
Led by junior Lauryn Bowie, who had a game-high 11 boards, the Pantherettes outrebounded the Rockets 46-33
Green finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including 3 of 7 from the 3-point line. She also had eight rebounds. Bowie finished with 12 points and was the only other Duncanville player scoring in double figures.
Only a sophomore, White scored 13 points to lead the Rockets. She hit 5 of 11 field-goal attempts, including 3 of 8 shots from beyond the arc, and added five rebounds.
Judson will lose two starters to graduation, point guard Mia Davis and guard Chantel Govan.
"Of course, we can build on this," White said. "We set the bar high for next year. We just have to come in and work on the offseason. We should be back. We'll be back."
Here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of Duncanville's 53-41 win over Judson on Friday night:
Final: Duncanville 53, Judson 41
Fourth quarter (5:14): Duncanville 46, Judson 31. Pantherettes forward Zarielle Green has scored nine points in the second half and has 18 for the game.
End of third quarter: Duncanville 40, Judson 28. The Pantherettes outscored the Rockets 15-4 in the third period.
Third quarter (5:52): Duncanville 31, Judson 24. Pantherettes open the second half with a 6-0 run.
Halftime: Duncanville 25, Judson 24
First-half notes: Sophomore guard Kyra White leads Judson with 11 points. She has hit 4 of 7 shots, including 3 of 6 from the 3-point line. White nailed a 3-pointer to tie score at 24 before Zarielle Green hit a free throw to put Duncanville up by one at the half. Forward Desiree Lewis has five rebounds for Judson. The Rockets shot 29.2 percent (7/24) in the first half. They were 4 of 10 from beyond the arc (40 percent . . . Green leads the Duncanville scoring with nine points, and Lauryn Bowie has set the pace under the boards with six rebounds. The Pantherettes shot 31.3 percent (10/32) in the first half. They hit only 2 of 11 shots from the 3-point line.
Second quarter (4:49): Duncanville 22, Judson 15. The Rockets tied the score at 15, but the Pantherettes went on a 7-0 run.
End of first quarter: Duncanville 15, Judson 12. The Rockets hung tough in the opening period. Kyra White led Judson with six points.
Judson girls not awed by defending champion Duncanville
UIL Girls Basketball State Tournament
Class 6A semifinals (Friday)
Houston Cypress Ranch (31-6) vs. Pflugerville (31-7), 7 p.m.
Duncanville (37-2) vs. Judson (28-6), 8:30 p.m.
Championship game: 8:30 p.m., Saturday
Notable: Duncanville has won nine state championships, including three in the past five years, and is making its 25th appearance in the state tournament.
SAN ANTONIO – If there’s one thing Judson coach Triva Corrales has tried to convey to her players more than anything else this week, it’s the importance of not getting caught up in the hype surrounding the Duncanville girls basketball program.
While Judson making its first appearance in the state tournament, the Rockets say they won’t be intimidated by the Pantherettes, who have won 76 of their last 78 games.
“I don’t think we’ll be awed,” sophomore guard Kyra White said. “I think our team is going to come out strong, ready. We know their personnel and we know what they like to do. Coach has prepared us well. I don’t think we’re going to come out intimidated. We just have to beat the press and weather the storm. They play a lot of pressure defense.”
Dubbed by some as the UConn of high school girls basketball, Duncanville has the two longest winning streaks in Texas history, reeling off 134 consecutive victories from 1987 to 1991 and 105 in a row from 2011 to 2014.
The Pantherettes have the championship hardware to show for that dizzying success, winning nine state titles, including three in the past five years. They dismantled Steele 81-41 in last year’s 6A state semifinals and capped a 39-0 season with a 76-42 rout of Spring Dekaney the next night at the Alamodome.
Judson (28-6) meets Duncanville (37-2) in the 6A semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Alamodome. Houston Cypress Ranch (31-6) and Pflugerville (31-7) clash in the first 6A semifinal at 7 p.m. The winners meet for the state crown at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
The University Interscholastic League state tournament, being played at the Alamodome for the third consecutive year, tipped off with the Class A semifinals Thursday morning and ends Saturday night with the 6A final.
It would be easy for any opponent to be mesmerized by Duncanville’s winning tradition. The Pantherettes have gone undefeated five times and are 566-73 since Cathy Self-Morgan became their coach in 2000. By comparison, the Connecticut women have recorded six unbeaten seasons and won 11 national championships.
“The more film I watch of them, the more of an appreciation I have for their methodology and the system that they run,” Corrales said of the Pantherettes. “They attack. They attack offensively, defensively. They try to put a lot of pressure on you and see if you’ll break.
“If you can handle that pressure, block out and do the little things fundamentally, you can have a chance. But not many teams can put it all together.”
While Corrales is confident in her team, she has no illusions about the challenge that Duncanville presents.
“The margin of error when you’re playing for a state championship, or even in the semifinals, is going to be minimal,” she said. “But what I try to stress to these girls is that their players are 15, 16, 17 years old, just like we are. They’re going to make mistakes. They’re not going to be perfect and neither are we. If we can minimize our mistakes and stay strong mentally and not get intimidated by what’s on their jersey, we’ll be all right.”
Judson had lost in the Region IV title game five times before beating Brandeis 63-56 last Saturday to earn its first berth in the state tournament. Junior forward Desiree Lewis led the Rockets with 25 points, and White finished with 11 points. Lewis and White are joined in the starting lineup by senior point guard Mia Davis, senior guard Chantel Govan and junior center Heaven Mbaruk.
Judson finished in a three-way tie with Steele and Wagner for the District 27-6A title, but a series of tiebreakers dropped the Rockets to a third-place playoff seeding. Judson showed its mettle by beating three state-ranked district champions – No. 16 Cedar Park Vista Ridge, No. 8 Johnson and No. 18 Laredo Alexander – en route to the state tournament.
“It’s amazing. It’s a complete honor,” Lewis said, referring to the Rockets reaching the state tournament for the first time. “No one really thought we were going to be here but our coach, so we had trust in her and faith in her to get us here.”
Like White, Lewis expressed confidence that she and her teammates won’t be awed by Duncanville.
“To us, right now, they’re just another team on the road to where we want to go,” Lewis said. “We’re not taking them lightly at all. They did win nine championships, so we’re going to have to be ready and focused.”
White said that while the Rockets are proud to be the first Judson team to reach the state tournament, they have a bigger goal.
“It doesn’t stop here,” she said. “We have to keep pushing, setting a standard for other teams that come after us. We’re just grateful that we get this moment.”