SNYDER — The Aledo Bearcats survived a last-second 3-point attempt to defeat El Paso Hanks 50-48 in the Class 4A Region I championship Saturday at Western Texas College.
Aledo (31-8) will make its first appearance at the UIL state tournament in school history on Thursday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
We didnt play our best game and we know that, but the bottom line is we got the win and we get to go to Austin, Aledo coach Rusty Johnson said.
Both teams played sloppy basketball through three quarters, but came alive in the final eight minutes. Hanks (26-9) erased a six-point deficit by opening the fourth period on a 8-2 run and took its first lead of the game with just under four minutes remaining.
The lead would change hands five more times over the next three minutes before Aledo senior Mallory Powell sank a clutch 3-pointer with 1:14 remaining to give the Bearcats the lead for good.
I felt like we werent playing our best game at all, said Powell, who finished with a game-high 19 points and five rebounds en route to tournament MVP honors. We needed some leadership and I think we came back with a lot of heart.
A vicious midcourt collision on the following possession forced Powell to the bench for the final minute with a bloody nose. Hanks was called for a flagrant foul, giving Aledo a 1-and-1, two technical free throws and the ball.
The Bearcats made 4 of 6 free throws, which included following another foul after the inbounds pass, to take a 50-45 lead. Then Hanks forward Britney Molina sank a 3-pointer and Aledo missed two free throws with eight seconds remaining. Molina had enough time for a last-second shot from the top of the circle, but it bounced off the back of the rim as time expired.
I cant describe my emotions, theyre just everywhere, said Justis Szcepanski-Beavers, who was selected all-tournament after finishing with 10 points, 15 rebounds and a block. I wanted to cry, but I just had to battle it out, we all had to battle it out.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JohnsonJarret
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