The North Central Texas Academy Lady Pioneers began their quest for a third straight state basketball championship with a thundering 50-22 win over visiting Bellville Faith Academy Thursday night in the area round of the playoffs.
The Lady Pioneers were playing yesterday for the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) Class A Region I title.
A win would vault NCTA (23-2) into the state tournament this weekend in Mansfield.
“The girls are hungry,” North Central Texas coach Emily Britt said. “They want to win a third straight championship. I think they have the talent to do it. We just have to focus on a couple of things.”
North Central Texas (formerly Happy Hill) led only 5-4 after the first quarter Thursday but began clicking in the second period and scored 22 while holding Bellville to zero points.
“I think we started off really slow,” said Britt, a Granbury High graduate in her first year at North Central Texas. “We haven’t played in almost two weeks. We picked it up and started playing our game.”
The Lady Pioneers coasted in the second half for a 28-point triumph over the Lady Knights (10-10) from northwest of Houston.
North Central Texas’ lone returning starter, senior Sara Etherington, was happy after the game but realizes there’s room for improvement.
“We played very well as a team and individually,” she said. “We need to work and push ourselves and we’ll get there.”
Etherington, with 11 points, was one of three Lady Pioneers in double scoring figures. Cynthia Rivas led with 20 points, and Shelby Lyle had 16.
Rivas’ 20 points included three 3-pointers and a 3-for-4 performance from the foul line. She also pulled down seven rebounds, had six steals and dished out three assists.
Etherington grabbed eight rebounds.
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TAPPS Class A area playoff
Bellevue Faith 4 0 10 8 – 22
NCTA 5 22 12 11 – 50
NCTA (23-2) scoring – Cynthia Rivas 20, Shelby Lyle 16, Sara Etherington 11, Anna Strickland 2, Jenni Chen 1.
3-pointers – Rivas 3, Lyle 1.
Rebounds – Etherington 8, Rivas 7, Lyle 5.
Assists – Rivas 3, Lyle 3.
Steals – Rivas 6, Eterhington 2, Chen 2.