|Without Cook, Lady Raiders have no recipe for state championship|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
March 12, 2004 -- AUSTIN -- Sometimes Goliath wins.
Canyon, the No. 1 team in Class 3A and with an enrollment that doubles Winnsboro, led the Lady Raiders virtually start-to-finish Saturday in a 63-33 victory in the Class 3A state championship game before 4,696 at the Frank Erwin Center.
The Lady Raiders (34-4) missed the post play of three-time All-State forward Katie Cook, who suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of the regional semifinal contest. Winnsboro won three games with her sitting on the bench, but when Canyon took away the Lady Raiders' outside shooting threat, they had a difficult time scoring outside as well as inside.
Winnsboro, which made 13 3-pointers in the state semifinal win over Liberty Hill, connected on just 2-of-14 on Saturday. Canyon, meanwhile, nailed 10-of-17 beyond the arc.
"They made 10-of-17 threes, we made 2-of-14, but they were different," said Winnsboro coach Buddy Hawkins, who took his eighth team to the state tournament. "We had to defend them inside, which allowed them time to stand and spot up outside. They didn't have to defend us inside because we had no inside play, so that allowed them to get up on us outside. That's the difference in shooting percentage, if you really want to know the truth.
"Thursday, we were allowed to spot up and shoot. That's the difference in having a little bit of post play and not having much inside presence. Our inside presence was over there on crutches and with a knee brace."
Canyon (33-2) used the inside-outside play of championship game MVP Jordan Hampton (21 points, seven rebounds) and Chelsie Friemel (11 points, seven rebounds) to pull away from Winnsboro in the second half.
For Canyon, it was their second straight state championship and 10th overall. Winnsboro has won three state titles in eight appearances, all in the last 15 seasons.
The Lady Raiders fell behind by 14 points in the first half and then cut the deficit by five before going in at halftime behind, 28-21.
But, Canyon opened the third period on a 12-2 run that put them ahead, 40-26 before Winnsboro's Whitney Huffman ended Winnsboro's scoring drought with a 3-pointer at the 2:50 mark.
"We got behind, then we made a pretty good comeback in the second quarter, and we actually cut it to five at one time," Hawkins said. "If we had come out and gotten out to a good start (in the second half), it might have been different."
Huffman led Winnsboro with 16 points, and twin sister Kristin scored five, and they combined for four rebounds as both were named to the All-Tournament team. Winnsboro also received strong play from freshman Megan Morton, who had four points, two rebounds and a game-high three steals in starting in place of Cook.
"It's a tribute to our team to be here," Hawkins said. "Not many teams can lose an All-State player two or three rounds deep in the playoffs and make it to the state finals. That's what I'm going to tell them when I go in there."
Winnsboro's only lead of the game came on their first possession, when junior Raegan Robinson putback on offensive rebound for a 2-0 lead. But, they only scored one more field goal in the period -- on Morton's driving jumper -- and two free throws by sophomore Jenny Woodle as Canyon ended the period with a 17-6 advantage.
Canyon out-rebounded Winnsboro, 32-18. Robinson had four boards to lead the Lady Raiders. Senior Lindsay Cain added three boards and a steal.
The Lady Raiders made a strong push in the second period after falling behind 22-8 by going on an 11-2 run started by a driving lay-up from Kristin Huffman, and then her twin sister connected on Winnsboro's first 3-pointer of the game at the 5:12 mark of the second quarter. After Canyon's Dixie Bell hit a pair of free throws, Whitney converted one free throw, Allison Nelson put in a shot off a Robinson offensive rebound and Morton turned a steal into a pull-up jumper at the 1:12 mark to make it a 24-19 game.
But, Canyon's Catherine McMenamy knocked down a 3-pointer on their next possession to push the lead back to eight points.
Canyon then hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to turn the game into a runaway.
"I've done this long enough and enough of these games to know that when you're playing for a state championship, you get to the fourth quarter things get a little wacky because the kids look up there and they lose their incentive to win," Hawkins said. "And that's just a natural reaction, and I don't know how you stop that. That's why you hear me saying, 'Play hard,' because I'm trying to get them to go from the first point to end regardless of the score.
"We always play hard. I have no qualms about that. It's just a prerequisite."
Notes: Sulphur Springs ISD superintendent Mark Henry, a member of the UIL Legislative Council, presented Archer City with the Texas Cup trophy Saturday morning. ...Canyon has an enrollment of 863 students, double that of Winnsboro (433). ... Winnsboro started four juniors and a freshman, while Canyon started four juniors and a senior.