AUSTIN — Kennedale used a fast-paced, aggressive defense to reach the UIL Class 3A state championship game, but the Wildcats fell victim to that same up-tempo approach in a 69-62 loss to Mexia on Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center.
The Blackcats (36-3) scored 33 points off 27 Kennedale turnovers and held the Wildcats (31-7) to 25.9 percent shooting in the second half. After scoring 30 points off 31 turnovers in its semifinal victory over Smithville on Thursday, Kennedale converted 19 Mexia turnovers into only 20 points.
“We knew going into the game that the team that had the fewest number of turnovers would have a good chance of winning,” Kennedale coach Vance Hughes said. “Twenty-seven [turnovers], that’s a lot. It was really crucial. We just didn’t play well. We weren’t disciplined.”
The game wasn’t always close. Mexia started with a 9-2 run before Kennedale responded with a 25-8 turnaround to take a 27-17 lead in the second quarter. But Mexia outscored the Wildcats 16-6 over the final 4:46 of the period to tie the game at 33 at halftime.
Junior guard McKinley Bostad was 7 for 11 from the floor for 19 points, including 3 for 6 on 3-pointers. After picking up her fourth foul with 4:44 left in the third quarter, senior forward Autumn Williams scored eight of her 19 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to give the Kennedale girls their first state title. The Kennedale boys won a 3A title in 2008.
“It was hard,” said Williams, who fouled out with 25.9 seconds left and the Wildcats down 64-62. “There was nothing I could do to help out the team. I felt helpless.”
The loss snapped Kennedale’s 16-game winning streak. The Wildcats were making their second trip to the UIL state tournament and first since 2008, when they fell in the final 59-43 to Canyon.
“We didn’t finish the way we wanted to,” Hughes said. “But everybody in the state wanted to be playing in that last game. There were only two teams that were playing. We just have to keep our head up and be glad that they got that experience.”
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