Granbury North Central Texas Academy defeated San Antonio Legacy Christian Academy 67-50 to win the TAPPS Class 1A state championship on Friday at West High School.
The Pioneers (31-2) win their fifth consecutive state title, and do it against the Rams for the second-straight time.
”It’s the greatest accomplish,” said James Southerland, who is in his second year as head coach. “I try to tell them all the time that guys go forever and won’t win a state championship so it means a lot.”
Seniors Strahinja Ivic and Augustine Ngalia, and junior Matija Andjelkovic were named to the all-state team.
“It’s special because anyone that comes into this school, they know this is a championship school,” Ngalia said. “No matter if it’s 10, we want to keep this thing going – that’s our mentality.”
The Pioneers, ranked No. 1 by Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, started out fast with back-to-back baskets from junior Carlos Medina, who finished with a game-high 21 points.
North Central Texas led 18-10 after the first quarter. The Pioneers extend their lead to 21-12 following a 3-point play from senior Marko Kovacevic with 5:45 left in the second.
But No. 2 Legacy Christian (36-3) got as close as 26-22 after junior Kevin Kake made two layups in a row.
Leading by six at the break, the Pioneers earned the win in the third quarter, starting out 6 of 11 from the field while the Rams missed their first nine shot attempts.
North Central Texas began the third with a 14-2 run and led 46-28 with two minutes left in the frame.
Medina added 10 rebounds for the Pioneers, who shot 23 of 49 from the field and went 16 of 18 on free throws.
Ivic chipped in 11 points and eight boards and Kovacevic and Ngalia grabbed 10 rebounds apiece. Junior Nikola Vasiljevic scored 16 points.
“Coach told us to wait for things to come and that’s what we did,” Kovacevic said. “We managed to do it because we practiced for it.”
The Pioneers held the Rams to 19 of 63 shooting including 5 of 23 from behind the arc.
“It’s been a grind every year,” Southerland said. “We have kids graduate and new ones will come in, and being an international school, we’ll get kids from all over the country. We get different cultures and for them to be able to mix and work as one to accomplish the same goal – it’s great and I just like the way my guys fought.”
This was the closest margin of victory for the Pioneers in this season’s playoffs. They had won their first four games by an average of 48 points per game.