LUBBOCK — Kennedale, No. 3 in the last regular season state poll, avenged a 21-point early-season loss to No. 1 Stephenville with a 48-45 win Saturday in the Class 3A Region I Final at the United Spirit Arena.
The Wildcats (30-6) won a tough, scrappy duel between two of the top-three teams in 3A. Senior forwards Autumn Williams and Travanti Downes led the Wildcats to their second win of the weekend combining for 27 of the Wildcats’ 48 points.
Williams was named tournament MVP.
Kennedale coach Vance Hughes attributed the award to Williams’ dedication and ability to lead by example.
“When the games are big and huge, Autumn always steps up,” Hughes said. “’That’s a player that we know we can go to when we need a bucket so that’s just Autumn being Autumn. She’s a leader and she wants to win.”
Downes said because it was her final trip to the regional final, her goal was simple.
“We all had one goal in mind, we’re always the same,” Downes said. “We all had to get to state, this is our last year.”
The Wildcats were able to win the turnover battle by a large margin, but the Honeybees (28-9) were able to close the gap with rebounding and their ability to take advantage of second-chance scoring opportunities.
Senior post Breyana Diaz led Stephenville with 12 points, including two late free throws to keep the Honeybees within reach. Junior guard Tiara Green also scored 11 points in the losing effort.
With fewer than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, junior guard McKinley Bostad made a three-point play to give Kennedale a 39-38 lead it would not surrender for the rest of the game.
Hughes said he was overwhelmed with joy for his team finally advancing to the state tournament.
“Once you realize that we’re going to state, I tried to forget about all of the bad parts of the game,” Hughes said. “Right now I’m just so elated because we fought hard for the last three years and we lost the last three years in a row and to finally get over that hump man, whatever it takes.”
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