Cougars Come Close, But No Cigar

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: March 10, 2009

HOUSTON — The Nimitz Lady Cougars fell short of their State Championship title bid with a 52-43 loss to the Mansfield Summit Jaguars in the Class 5A State Championship game held at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Nimitz was the No. 1 ranked team in the state headed into Saturday’s championship game and no one expected the Jaguars to take down the highly favored Cougars.

Mansfield Summit used a variety of defensive schemes to keep Nimitz off balance from start to finish. 6-foot-8 senior Brittney Griner, the No. 1 player in the country, hit 10-of-11 from the field, but her teammates were 7-of-26.

Griner just missed a triple double as she finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and nine blocks. But it was a far cry from her record-breaking state semifinal performance of 44 points, 18 rebounds, and eight blocks in Friday night’s victory over Pflugerville.

“She is a heck of a player,” Mansfiled Summit head coach Tammy Lusinger said. “We really felt like we could take our chances of three-on-four against their other players and always have someone in front of and behind her.”

Nimitz came out strong in the third quarter, but Summit was stronger. The Jaguars outscored the Cougars 16-10 in the third quarter and extended the lead to 31-24, after leading 15-14 at the half.

Summit (35-4) was led by Starr Crawford’s 14 points and 12 rebounds. Teammate Amy Moody added 11 points. Crawford was eventually named the state tournament MVP.

Nimitz finished the season with the best record among UIL teams in the state at 36-2. The Cougars won the 5A Region III title for the first time and made their first trip to the state tournament.

Griner set the state tournament scoring record with her 44 points Friday night and became the first girl to dunk in a UIL state championship tournament.

“We will always have a lot of great things to look back on about this season,” Griner said. “It’s a disappointing night, but I am really proud of this team and what we have accomplished this season.”