Oh, So Close!

Sandiettes Fall in Class 2A Title Game, 60-56

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

SAN ANTONIO – It wasn’t just enough to make it to the title game – the Grapeland Sandiettes came to play and bring home the UIL Girls Basketball Class 2A State Championship. Standing in their way, were the defending champs, the 38-0 Martin’s Mill Lady Mustangs.

The 29-8 Sandiettes fought their way into the title game having defeated the #2 ranked Mason Cowgirls by a final score of 61-54 in the State Semifinals.

The Lady Mustangs, meanwhile, had their hands full with the Panhandle Pantherettes in the other semifinal game before they eventually prevailed, 49-47.

With the Grapeland win over Mason and the Martin’s Mill win over Panhandle, the showdown between the Sandiettes and Lady Mustangs was set.

As the game progressed, with the exception of the first quarter, it looked like Grapeland might dethrone the champs. Unfortunately for the Sandiettes, it was not meant to be as the Lady Mustangs tied the game at 56 with 1:49 left to play, took the lead at the 19 second mark and held on to win by a final score of 60-56.

The two teams had played twice before during the regular season with Martin’s Mill blowing out Grapeland on both occasions, 61-37 and 65-42. Following the tip-off, it looked like a third blowout was looming on the horizon.

With the score tied at four, Martin’s Mill went on a 16-3 run to close out the quarter with a 20-7 lead. Mollie Daniel paved the way with six points while Jada Celsur, Kenley Nixon and Taylor Sparks all had four. Rachel Alvis also had two to round out the first quarter scoring for the Lady Mustangs.

The Grapeland points came from Teira Jones with three while Hannah Chipman and KeKe Harris both dropped in two.

When the Sandiettes broke the huddle to start the second quarter, the team appeared to have a new focus. Grapeland had played arguably their worst quarter of the playoffs against the number one ranked team in the state and only found themselves down by 13, after the first eight minutes of play.    

Abbie Orrick put Martin’s Mill up by 15 to start the second quarter, but then Grapeland showed why they were in title game. The Sandiettes went on a 13-1 run and when Kenya Woods powered in a lay-up with 3:05 remaining in the first half, Head Coach Anthony DeCello’s squad only trailed by one, 23-22.

Grapeland tied the game at 26 with 1:13 remaining but Martin’s Mill scored the next five points in regulation to take a 31-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Sandiettes’ charge was led by Jones with eight points, Woods with four, Chipman with three and Harris, as well as Ragan Bowie with two apiece.

The Lady Mustangs were paced by Taylor Sparks with five points while both Celsur and Orrick had three apiece.

The Sandiettes came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders and quickly made up the deficit. Woods made her presence known for the Sandiettes in the third quarter as she keyed a 15-2 run. She converted a pair of free throws to cut the Martin’s Mill lead to three.

Following a layup by Chipman to slice the lead to one, Woods made a steal and drove the length of the court to lay one in and give the Sandiettes their first lead of the game at 32-31. Tatiyana Bowie worked her way inside for two and then Woods knocked down a three-pointer and followed up with a two- pointer to push the Grapeland lead out to eight, 39-31, with 5:21 remaining in the third quarter.

Grapeland held the lead the rest of the period but Martin’s Mill trimmed the lead down a single basket by the end of the quarter. Woods led the Sandiettes with nine points in the third while Jones had six. Chipman added four and T. Bowie chipped in two as the Sandiettes took a 47-45 lead into the final period of play.

The Lady Mustangs’ points came from Jada Celsur with six points while both Alvis and Orrick had three apiece. Sparks added a bucket to close out the Martin’s Mill third period offense.

As the final eight minutes began, the two teams fought for every possession and every basket. The Lady Mustangs tied the score at 47 and then pulled ahead at 51-49. A lay-up and a free throw by Chipman put Grapeland back in front with 4:58 remaining.

A pair of baskets by Harris pushed the Sandiettes’ lead out to 56-51 with three minutes left to play, but then the Lady Mustangs showed their championship moxie as they rattled off nine straight points while holding Grapeland scoreless.

With the score 59-56, the Sandiettes had one last shot at tying the game but a three-pointer from Chipman, with four seconds left, just missed the mark as Martin’s Mill held off Grapeland by a final score of 60-56 to win the UIL Class 2A Girls’ Basketball State Championship.

On the game, the Lady Mustangs were paced by Jada Celsur with 16 points, five rebounds, one assist, one block and three steals. Celsur was also named as the tournament’s MVP. Taylor Sparks netted 13 for Martin’s Mill, while Mollie Daniel (All-Tournament) and Kenley Nixon had nine apiece. Abbie Orrick (All-Tournament) dropped in eight and Rachel Alvis had five to close out the Lady Mustangs’ point production.

The Sandiettes were led by Teira Jones with 17 points, eight boards and four steals. Hannah Chipman had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along four assists, one block and four steals. Both Chipman and Jones were chosen for the Girls’ Basketball State Class 2A All-Tournament Team.

Other scorers for Grapeland included: Kenya Woods with 13 points; KeKe Harris with eight; and both Ragan and Tatiyana Bowie with two apiece.

From all of us at The Messenger, congratulation on a very successful and fun season!!

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

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