• Centennial’s Zassmine Birdwell fights for a rebound during Monday’s win over Mansfield Summit.  BURLESON STAR/RICKY MOORE

Lady Spartans post signature win

Centennial faces Dallas Conrad Thursday in area round

MIDLOTHIAN ­— When Centennial coach Valerie Wootan emerged from the visitor’s locker room at Midlothian High School’s gym, tears were welling up in her eyes following the Lady Spartans Class 5A Region II bi-district playoff game against Mansfield Summit.

Usually, tears are reserved for the losers following their last game of the season.

But Monday night Wootan was shedding tears of joy and happiness for her players after they defeated Summit, the state’s No. 12 ranked team, 56-47.

It wasn’t the Lady Spartans first playoff win but it was surely the program biggest win in its six-year history. Last season, Centennial beat Fort Worth Trimble Tech for its first playoff win. But Monday’s win meant more according to Wootan.

“I’m so proud of the kids and so excited they got to experience what it feels like to get that level of a win in the playoffs,” Wootan said. “It was such a team effort.”

Centennial (21-11) will face Dallas Conrad (17-6) at 8 p.m. Thursday at Cedar Hill in an area-round game.

While the Lady Spartans did all the heaving lifting Monday night, Wootan and her coaching staff played a huge part in win getting them prepared for the Lady Jaguars.

Senior guard Karly Burson, who scored a game-high 19 points said the team was ready for Summit thanks to the coaches.

“Coach Wootan got us in the right mindset and had us prepared,” Burson said. “Our defense really seemed to frustrate them and forced them to put up some bad shots.”

Summit (26-8) faced a rotating zone defense that Wootan installed just for the Lady Jags. The team learned the defense last season but never used it. So for three days, they worked on perfecting in and the work paid off.

With Summit leading 18-9 after one quarter of play, the defense took its toll in the middle quarters as the Lady Jags scored four points in the second quarter and five in the third quarter.
Centennial on the other had found its shooting rhythm and led 27-22 at halftime and 48-27 heading into the fourth quarter.

Then in the fourth quarter disaster nearly toppled the Centennial. The shooting touch left the Lady Spartans and Summit’s full-court pressure led to turnovers that fueled a comeback run.
Centennial just got out of sync, Wootan said.

“You get to that point in the fourth quarter when you have a lead and you have to figure out whether you are going to eat the clock or be aggressive and score and we kind of got stuck in the middle,” Wootan said. “We got a little flustered but I was proud of them for staying strong to the last second.”

Even though Centennial didn’t make a shot from the field in the fourth quarter and Summit scored 20 points, the Lady Spartans were able to maintain an eight-point advantage thanks to making eight free throws.

A raucous crowd that never gave up on the Lady Spartans even when the trailed 18-6 in the first quarter helped drive the momentum all night.

“People in the crowd were expecting us to win but people at school had been talking about it and not having faith in us,” said sophomore Ady Mize, who scored 17 points. “But we just had faith in ourselves and pulled through.”

For the Lady Spartans, senior Bree Gustin scored 10 points and junior Molly McCalla finished with eight points.

Centennial 56, Mansfield Summit 47
Centennial    9    18    21    8    -    56
Summit    18    4    5    20    -    47
Centennial (21-11):
 Karly Burson 19, Ady Mize 17, Bree Gustin 10, Molly McCalla 8, Abbi Williams 2.
Summit (26-8): Khadijah Kelly 14, Amber Dixon 11, Tommisha Lampkin 11, Christina Baker 6, Tyesha Brown 3, Tamera Derrough 2.

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Centennial’s Zassmine Birdwell fights for a rebound during Monday’s win over Mansfield Summit.  BURLESON STAR/RICKY MOORE