Pantherettes cruise to win over Coronado to claim another trip to State Tournament

Senior Kiera Perry steals the ball from Lubbock Coronada under the basket during the Region 1 Finals game. The Panterettes went on to win the game. (Abigail Padgett photo)

The Pantherettes pushed their winning streak at out to 68 today as they cruised past Lubbock Coronada(36-2) to win the Region I Championship 64-45 at Wilkerson Greines Center  and claim a spot in the State Tournament for the second straight year.

“These are just great kids. They love me and I love them,” head coach Cathy Self Morgan said. ” We are just focusing on winning right now and staying humble.”

Junior Ariel Atkins put 29 points on the board against Coronada. She came out strong in the first period of play and picked up a few fast breaks to put the Pantherettes ahead.  The Pantherettes outscored Coronada 29-12 in the first period of play with Atkins going 7 of 7 on several fast breaks to the basket.

“I am not the best player on this team. Teams must guard everyone on this team,” Atkins said. “Everybody on this team puts in 110% for the win.”

Atkins said the team has been ready to return to the State Tournament since finishing with the top trophy last year.  They looked like the team to win it again as they tacked on points every period of play and stayed ahead through the entire game beating Coronada in every period of play.

“We are hungry to win it again but we must remain humble,” Atkins said.

The team showed they were hungry as they went to the locker room at the half leading Coronada 38-27. Self-Morgan stayed calm as she talked to her team at the half prior to coming out for the final 16 minutes of play.

“We have 16 minutes left of the funnest week of our lives,”  Self-Morgan said. “We have to continue to feed off of each other. Lets play tough defense and tough boards.”

The Pantherettes came out strong putting up several unanswered points quick while shutting Coronada down in the third. The Pantherettes only put up 10 points in the third but held Coronada to 8. This was enough to keep the Pantherettes in the lead 48-35 at the end of the third.

“We knew coming into this game we needed to play together and work hard to get the win,” Atkins said. “We deserve to be here because we work hard every day and everyone puts everything into the game even the bench.”

The Pantherettes will now face the winner of Pflugerville and DeKaney in the State Semifinals game next Friday.

“We had a little bit of jitters last night,” Atkins said. “We want it so bad that we get a little nervous sometimes. We just have to play our game. We have to keep pushing.”

The Pantherettes will be looking to do just that next week as they look to repeat as 5A State Champions.

Photos from the Finals below: