JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MANSFIELD —The Faith Academy girls basketball team advanced to its second Class 2A state championship for the second time in its history thanks to defeating Sherman Texoma 55-47 on Feb. 28.
The Lady Flames (29-4, 10-0 in District 4-2A) will face the winner of New Braunfels Christian-Schertz John Paul II at 11 a.m. March 1 at Mansfield Legacy High School, 1263 N. Main St. in Mansfield. The game will be aired live on KBEY 103.9 FM and at KBEYFM.com.
Faith trailed only two times in the 32-minute contest.
“It was impeccable,” Faith head coach Jerry English said about his squad’s victory against Texoma. “I hope they continue to play like this.”
Faith took a 4-0 lead to start the contest thanks to junior guard Taylor Denton, who scored all four points. But Sherman responded, ending the opening quarter with a 10-8 advantage.
The Lady Flames began the second quarter with a three-point play by senior forward Joanna Piatek. That triggered a 16-0 run that ended with 20 seconds left in the second. By then, Faith led 26-12 at the half.
Texoma began a furious rush to get back in the game to start the second half thanks to a punishing defense that forced about eight Faith turnovers. By the end of the third, Texoma outscored the Lady Flames 19-11 but trailed 37-31 headed into the final period.
“I really thought we had them down enough, but they wouldn’t go away,” English said.
Texoma continued to apply the defensive pressure and eventually took a 38-37 lead. But the Lady Flames came right back thanks to a bucket from sophomore post Hannah Cozby. That triggered an 11-2 run that was enough to propel Faith to the win.
During the time between the third and fourth periods, English gave his players stern instructions.
“Start believing in each other and quit doing it (individually),” he said. “I thought that had as much to do with it as anything. We kind of regrouped after that. I think we hunkered down and decided we can win this, and we did.”
Denton led the way with 16 points, including 10 of 11 free throws, and 10 steals.
With the victory, the Lady Flames snapped a three-game losing streak to Texoma.
English noted he hasn’t had many losing streaks to the same opponent, and his players were aware of that headed into the contest.
“I really felt like we could beat Texoma,” he said. “I really felt like we could do things others could not. I thought our defense was outstanding. I think we played extremely hard and very courageous. I think they wanted to break that streak.”