Lady Pioneers chase No. 4

The North Central Texas Academy Lady Pioneers continued their run to a fourth consecutive Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class A state championship with a 64-32 second-round playoff win over Lubbock Christ the King.

Carolina Bianchi (28) and Esther Udonsi (26) combined for 54 of the Lady Pioneers’ points as they improved to 19-5.

NCTA is one win away from returning to the state tournament. A victory last night against Lubbock Kingdom Prep in Merkel would send them back to Mansfield.

“The team is playing great and I am so proud of them,” said first-year coach Jodie Stevens.

“They are champions no matter what happens from here on out.”

Then, Stevens added, “They really want state this year.”

The Lady Pioneers have won 14 consecutive games.

In topping Lubbock Christ the King, NCTA built a 38-19 halftime advantage. After that, a 14-4 run in the third put the game well out of reach.

Stevens would be the third coach to lead the team to state since the girls program was reinstated a few years ago. Tammy Evans led them to titles in 2011-12 before moving on to Arlington Grace Prep, and Emily Britt coached them to last season’s championship before taking a job as an assistant at her alma mater in Granbury.

In winning the previous three state titles the Lady Pioneers had records of 27-2, 27-5 and 26-3. A win last night would have the 100th in four years.

Girls Basketball

TAPPS Class A Second Round

Lubb. CK 10 9 4 9 – 32

NCTA 21 17 14 12 – 64

NCTA (19-5) scoring – Carolina Bianchi 28, Esther Udonsi 26, Sophie Schultz 4, Emily Bloyd 4, Jenny Chen 2.