Lady Pioneers back at state

As a player for Granbury High, Emily Britt was on one of the best basketball teams in Texas but never won a state championship.

Now, as a coach she is closer than ever to knowing that feeling after her North Central Texas Academy Lady Pioneers defeated Plainview Christian 57-42 Wednesday in Sweetwater.

The victory in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class A Region I final sends NCTA to the state tournament for a third consecutive season. They won the past two titles when they were named Happy Hill.

“It makes me think about when I was in high school, the girls are so close,” said Britt, who is in her first year as a head coach.

The Lady Pioneers (24-3) led by just one point late in the second quarter, then they began to pull away. NCTA’s largest lead was 20 points, 41-21, after a 15-0 third-quarter run.

Shelby Lyle led NCTA with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Sara Etherington also posted a double-double (12 points, 16 rebounds), and Cynthia Rivas added 16 points.

“We have three take-charge kids,” said Britt. “But getting back to state was a team effort.”

The Lady Pioneers were playing District 2-A foe Wichita Falls Notre Dame at press time Friday. The winner will meet San Antonio Gateway or Selma River City Believers in today’s championship game at noon at Mansfield Summit High.

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TAPPS Class A girls Region I final

NCTA 15 11 15 16 – 57

PV Christ. 12 9 0 21 – 42

NCTA (24-3) scoring – Shelby Lyle 17, Cynthia Rivas 16, Sara Etherington 12, Anna Strickland 7, Melissa Rivera 4, Jenni Chen 1.

Rebounds – Etherington 16, Lyle 10, Rivas 7, Strickland 5.

Assists – Lyle 5, Rivas 5.

Steals – Rivas 5.