Senior Ariel Atkins consoles senior Tasia Foman after their hopes of a 3 peat championship came to an end with a 56-51 loss to Manvel in the State Championship game. (Karla Estrada Photo)

Four of the five starters for the Pantherettes watched helplessly from the bench the last three minutes of  the 5A State Championship game against Manvel.  The starters all fouled out of the game leaving only Keyana Smith in the game to fight to the end of the game in what was expected to be a 3-Peat for the Pantherettes but instead ended in a 58-53 loss at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.

“It just wasn’t meant to be tonight,” Pantherette head coach Cathy Self Morgan said.

The foul rap sheet looked fairly lopsided in the championship game all the way through with the Pantherettes recording 26 fouls in the game with Manvel only sending the Panthettes to the line  13 times.  The only points scored in the first period of play by the Lady Mavericks came on free throws with the score at the end of the first period standing at 10-2 in favor of the Pantherettes.  The Mavericks would come back to make the game close going to the line several more times in the second and taking a 7-2 run, leaving the Pantherettes hanging on to a 19-15 lead at the half.

“My kids played with a lot of heart,” Self-Morgan said.  “They played hard. “

Manvel was no stranger to the Pantherettes as they suffered a loss in Pasadena earlier this year when the Patherettes defeated them to take the win in the McDonalds tournament.  Manvel also saw the Pantherettes take a big win over San Antonio Wagner, 80-57, less than 24 hours prior to their meeting.

“They ran our stuff. They knew what to do,” Self-Morgan said of Manvel’s win.  “They scored, they ran on us. They played good defense.”

Ariel Atkins takes a fall in the lane against Manvel after being called for her fourth foul of the night in the 56-51 loss. (Karla Estrada photo)

Manvil struck first to open the second half as Jordan Hosey hit a lay-up to put them within two followd by Amieya Jackson’s jumper that tied the game at 19. The game went back and forth but the Pantherettes were able to stay in the lead at 36-31 at the end of the third period of play.  This came despite most of the starters having to spend time on the bench sitting at four fouls each.

Manvel was able to execute in the fourth by nipping at the starters and taking each one out of the game on fouls one by one.  Tiara Davenport was the first to go out while Duncanville held a 40-38 lead with just under six minutes left in the game.  The Pantherettes extended their lead to 49-42 but with 3:52 left in the game, sharp shooter Ariel Atkins went out of the game on fouls after being the only one in double digits on the night at 24.

“The foul outs really hurt us tonight,” Self-Morgan said as she left the court to join her team in the locker room after the game.

With just a little over a minute left in the game and the Pantherettes down 51-52, the star of the State Semi-Final’s game, sophomore Ciera Johnson, fouled out and Manvel began to put the ice on the game going to the line to extend their lead to 53-51. Senior Tasia Foman attempted to get the Pantherettes back in the game and into overtime as she put up a three point shot that would not make it in the basket with :39 left in the game. Then she fouled out and went to the bench ending all hope of getting an outside shot by her again. The game was still a one possession game, and with only one starter left in the game,  Smith fouled the Lady Mavericks. The team then went up 56-51 and continued to cruise to the close of the game.

Although the Pantherettes entered the game with one of the longest winning streaks in a while, they said had one goal going into the game with Manvel.

Starters Ciera Johnson and Tasia Foman are consoled by head coach Cathy Self-Morgan after a devastating 56-51 loss to Manvel in the State Tournament. (Olivia Davila photo)

“You have to be hungry every game,” senior Ariel Atkins said. “Every game you have to be willing to win. Any given day somebody from nowhere can beat you.”

See photos of Championship game below:

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