No. 15 Pittsburg Holds On for 41-36 Victory Over No. 16 Celina to Reach 3A Region II Final
COMMERCE -- Pittsburg missed 11 of its first 14 free-throw attempts, but Shakira Duffey made the four that mattered most.
The senior forward hit four consecutive free throws in the final 34.4 seconds to propel No. 15 Pittsburg to a 41-36 win against 16th-ranked Celina in Friday evening's Class 3A Region II semifinal at Texas A&M-Commerce.
Pittsburg faces No. 5 Krum (28-6), which beat No. 14 Liberty-Eylau 60-56 on Friday, in Saturday's 1 p.m. regional championship at Texas A&M-Commerce. The winner advances to the 3A state tournament next weekend in Austin.
Celina cut Pittsburg's 14-point third-quarter lead to a single point twice in the final 2:40, including 37-36 with barely more than a minute remaining. That's when Pittsburg (32-5) spread the floor and ran 32 seconds off the clock before Duffey was fouled, leading to the first two of her game-sealing free throws.
Pittsburg then forced two Celina misses on open, would-be, game-tying three-point attempts. Senior forward Cheyenne Ramey, who owned the glass, grabbed the defensive rebound and kicked the ball ahead to Duffey, who was fouled on a runout with 9.1 seconds left. Duffey hit the next pair of free throws for the two-possession advantage, icing the game for the Lady Pirates.
"Shakira with those free throws, that was major, major clutch," said Pittsburg coach Debra Manley.
Duffey hit 7 of 10 field-goal attempts to lead Pittsburg with 18 points and four rebounds, while Ramey had 11 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists, and three blocks. Senior post Meagan Peters added eight points, seven boards, and six blocks as Pittsburg won the glass 37-24, including a 24-12 second-half advantage.
Alex Jones led Celina, which does not have a senior on its 12-player roster, with 14 points and five steals. Sarah Cantu had 12 points and four steals. K.J. Stastny recovered from early foul trouble and finished with seven points, 11 rebounds, six blocks, and three steals.
Pittsburg shredded Celina's first-half press. All six of the Lady Pirates' second-quarter buckets came at point-blank range, whether after breaking the Celina press or scoring off halfcourt sets. During that stretch, Celina missed five of its six layup attempts, allowing Pittsburg to build an 11-10 lead after one quarter into a 24-15 halftime lead.
But Manley knew the Celina run was coming, and did it ever.
Celina cut the 31-17 deficit thanks to a pair of three-point plays, two fourth-quarter three-pointers, and 6-for-7 free-throw shooting during a 17-4 run that brought the Ladycats within one point, 35-34, with 2:40 remaining. The Celina press also improved greatly thanks to a more aggressive halfcourt trap and Pittsburg senior guard DeNasia Watson's foul trouble. Celina forced 31 Pittsburg turnovers, including 19 in the second half.
"I knew that (Celina run) was coming. We had to step up and move some people around," Manley said. "The kids played well. We didn't score a whole lot, but we just played big. I said, 'Guys, you're gonna have to hang on.' ... It ain't pretty, but we got it done."
When Pittsburg's offense wasn't working, especially in the second half, the Lady Pirates' defense still was. Celina shot a paltry 20.8 percent from the field, including 5-for-25 from three-point range. Pittsburg shot 55.1 percent on 24 fewer field-goal attempts, which were a product of Celina committing only 19 turnovers to Pittsburg's 31.
Class 3A Region II
No. 15 Pittsburg 41, No. 16 Celina 36
Pittsburg -- 11 13 9 8 -- 41
Celina -- 10 5 9 12 -- 36
Pittsburg (32-5) -- Shakira Duffey 18, Cheyenne Ramey 11, Meagan Peters 8, DeNasia Watson 4.
Celina -- Alex Jones 14, Sarah Cantu 12, K.J. Stastny 7, Kynese Davis 3.