FORT WORTH, Texas -- Cedar Hill's girls basketball team is going to the state final four -- just as second-year coach Andrea Robinson always thought.
The Lady Longhorns punched next weekend's ticket to Austin, their first in 13 years, by defeating District 7-5A foe Irving MacArthur, 67-60, in the Class 5A Region I championship Saturday at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.
"From Day 1, I thought this team could do something special," said Robinson, who is somewhat of an expert on the subject, having coached Fort Worth Dunbar to the state tournament three times (winning twice) from 2005-2007.
"They worked so hard in the offseason, doing all the things I asked of them. That's why we were strong at the end."
Cedar Hill (27-6) outscored MacArthur, 35-19 in the final 9:25.
MacArthur (37-2, with both losses to Cedar Hill) saw its chances dim almost before the game started. Senior guard Odyssey Sims, ESPNU's HoopGurlz No. 3 senior prospect in the nation, injured her right leg going up for a shot 13 seconds into the game. She immediately went to the floor, screaming in pain.
The Baylor signee tried a fourth-quarter return but again had to hobble to the bench after playing an ineffective three minutes. Sims, averaging a 5A area-best 22.5 points per game, went scoreless.
Sims had never missed a game because of injury in her four-year career at MacArthur.
"We had to regroup quickly,'' MacArthur coach Suzie Oelschlegel said. "Everybody was in shock at first. But I couldn't ask for any more effort. They realized what they had to do."
MacArthur led 43-32 as late as the 1:35 mark of the third quarter. That's when Cedar Hill's pressure began to cause turnovers.
"When you lose the best guard in the state, it has to hurt," Robinson said. "I hope everything is well with Odyssey. I hate to see anyone injured. But they still had Alexis Jones, another great guard, and some of their other kids really stepped up."
Jones, a sophomore, led all scorers with 26 points.
Cedar Hill took a lead it would not relinquish on a free throw by BreAnna Dawkins (14 points) with 4:19 remaining.
Dawkins struck again with a steal that led to a 3-point play and a six-point lead with two minutes left.
Diara Moore led Cedar Hill with 16 points, and Briah Blakely had 15. Jada Terry, a 6-2 freshman, added four key inside baskets in the final quarter.
"We're overwhelmed," Blakely said. "This is a big accomplishment for us."