AUSTIN, Texas -- A hot shooting touch for Celina in the first half of Saturday's 3A girls state final couldn’t overcome a second-half push by Peyton Little and Abilene Wylie.
Wylie (36-5) took its second straight state championship with a 59-45 win over Celina at the Frank Erwin Center. It was Wylie’s third straight trip to the championship.
Celina (34-4) shot a scorching 52.9 percent in the first quarter. The Lady Cats put together one of the few runs in the first half in the middle of the second quarter, 6-0, but relinquished the lead before halftime.
Celina forward K.J. Stastny couldn’t convert on the first shot of a 1-and-1 with seconds left in the half and the score tied at 23. With 0.4 seconds remaining, Hailey Brown hit one of her free throws to give Wylie a 24-23 halftime lead.
It would be a sign of things to come in the second half for Celina.
Wylie lengthened its lead in the beginning of the half, putting together a 7-1 run after Little found her scoring touch. Wylie would improve on a 33.3 shooting percentage in the first half to shoot 50 percent in the second.
Celina couldn't keep up, falling to 33.3 percent in the second half.
Another 9-0 Wylie run, spanning from the end of the third into the fourth, would be the final blow needed for Wylie to capture another title.
Little, a Texas A&M signee, finished with 33 points and captured her second straight MVP award after setting the 3A championship game scoring record last year with 43 points.
Wylie head coach Tri Danley couldn’t help but gush over his four-year starter after the game.
“There’s very few players like Peyton,” Danley said. “We’re going to look back 10 years from now and I’ll thank God I got to coach her and these players will be thankful they got to play for her.”
Danley said he hopes to be able to follow up on his promise to let Little keep her uniform to honor her contributions to the Wylie program.
Right behind Little’s effort in scoring was Brown’s work guarding Celina’s offensive standout Kynzie Newman, who was held to just five points in the game.
“[Brown] was guarding me and she was pretty quick so it made it very difficult to get open,” Newman said.
Celina coach Jordan Davis tipped her cap to Wylie’s ability to hit shots in traffic. In the end, it was Wylie’s defense that proved to be stronger.
“Defense apparently wins championships and that’s what happened right there,” Davis said.