Nimitz, Cy Fair are headed to Austin

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: March 4, 2009

Brittney GrinerHOUSTON — The Nimitz Lady Cougars and the Cy Fair Bobcats captured their Regional Championships and are headed to Austin, Texas this weekend to play in the Class 5A Girls State Tournament.

Nimitz, and head coach Debbie Jackson had made four trips to the regional tournament in the past, and went home empty handed every time.

However, this year with a No. 1 state and area ranking , as well as the No. 1 high school girls player in the nation , the Cougars made sure that they captured the Class 5A Region III trophy and a state tournament berth.

The Lady Cougars (36-1) will face Pflugerville (32-5) in the Class 5A conference semifinals on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. in the Frank Erwin Center.

Brittney Griner, the No. 1 player in the country scored a game-high 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 blocks in a 45-26 victory over the Bellaire Cardinals in the Region III-5A championship game at the M.O. Campbell Center. The victory gave Nimitz its first berth in the Class 5A girls state basketball tournament in the school’s history.

“I am so overwhelmed with joy right now, ” Griner said. “My teammates really backed me up today, even when I missed some shots. We got the ball to the open person and a lot of people contributed to this.”

In order to get to the regional championship game, Nimitz had to get past the Dulles Vikings in one of the most premiere high school girls basketball matchups featuring No. 1 Griner and No. 2 Kelsey Bone (Dulles). Neither player disappointed the 6,353 fans, the largest crowd ever to watch a girls basketball game in Houston.

Griner, who fouled out of the game with 3:46 remaining in the third quarter, put on a clinic in the first half. She was all over the floor both offensively and defensively, and she sent everyone in attendance at the game into a frenzy with a steal and a powerful one-handed dunk in the first period. She finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 13 blocks and 2 dunks.

Bone , who’s ranked as the No. 2 player in the country lived up to the expectations scoring 26 points, 8 rebounds and four blocks. She fouled out late in the fourth quarter.

Nimitz didn’t loose their composure when Griner fouled out and they had their biggest test of character this season. Dulles made a run and tried to close the gap, but senior point guard Jessica Diamond stepped up and took control connecting on 8-of-8 from the line in the fourth quarter, to help the Cougars outscored Dulles 25-18.

The Cougars who led at the half 41-20, defeated the Lady Vikings 76-59. Dulles guard Jasmin Henderson added 10 points in the loss despite being in early foul trouble in the game.

Nimitz took an early lead against Bellaire and never trailed throughout the game. Senior guard/forward Zoe Rogers led the Lady Cardinals(31-4) with 10 points in the game. Sophomore Chrishauna Parker added 12 points.

In other regional action Cy Fair junior forward Chiney Ogwumike scored 37 points, 24 bounds, and 8 blocks to lead the Lady Bobcats to their third straight Region II Championship and third consecutive trip to Austin for the state tournament.

Playing without junior guard Cassie Peoples, who suffered a broken leg last week in a playoff game against Westfield, Ogwumike played the best game of her career and led Cy Fair to a 71-54 win over College Park in the Class 5A Region II final at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

“She put the team on her back and we held on,” Cy Fair head coach Ann Roubique said. “She’s a leader, she has been here and you want your big-time players to play big in games like this.”

Cy Fair and College Park met November 22nd in the championship of the McDonald’s Invitational. College Park won that game 81-65. Ogwumike led all scorers with 33 points, but College Park guard Monique Smalls was considered the game’s star scoring 29 points, 15 assists and 10 steals.

The Lady Bobcats (35-3) will face Mansfield Summit (32-4) in a Conference 5A semifinal at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at the Frank Erwin Center.

The Houston area now has two teams in the 5A state tourney and they could be headed for a showdown in Austin, Saturday night.