It all came down to Saturday’s championship game between two teams who need no introduction, the season champion Eastside Lady Bulldogs and the season runner-up Irving College Lady Tigers.
The game was highly touted as the premier championship matchup Saturday. The Lady Tigers fell behind in the first and then somehow clawed their way back within two points at the half.
The Lady Tigers tied the game in the third -- then the Lady Bulldog defense clamped down. Eastside pulled away in the third and held on down the stretch. The Lady Bulldogs claimed the postseason tournament championship, 33-23.
MaKenna Mason led all scorers with a game-high 16 points. She shot 3-of-5 from the free-throw line and hit the Lady Tigers with a dagger from well behind the arch at the buzzer to end the third quarter.
The Lady Bulldogs led to start the third quarter 12-10 after the Lady Tiger offense clawed its way back from an early deficit. Irving College gained momentum early when Ella Bond slipped free from the defense and buried a 3-pointer over the Eastside defense. The Lady Bulldogs led 14-13.
Eastside turned the ball over and Kenley Cathcart took it down the floor and was fouled on her way up with a shot. She hit the first foul shot and locked the score at 14-14 with 3:39 to play in the third. Her second shot missed.
The ball was rebounded by Mason and she went coast-to-coast through the Lady Tiger defense and immediately broke the tie, 16-14.
A turnover allowed Grayson Hillis to sprint down the floor. Her shot came off the rim and Rylie Crawford was there for the putback and Eastside led 18-14.
Irving College struggled to control the ball and Eastside picked off a pass and gave it right back to the Lady Tigers.
Hannah Lee and Cathcart had a 2-on-1 break against Eastside. Cathcart dropped it over to Lee and her shot was too hard. Cathcart pulled down the rebound and quickly went back up. She was fouled. She hit 1-of-2 and Irving College trailed 18-15.
After Irving College lost the ball, frustration showed for the Lady Tigers and Irving College received a technical foul. Mason walked to the other end of the floor and knocked down 1-of-2 free throws and extended the Eastside lead to 19-15.
Eastside retained possession and Lexi Loader attacked the defense and slipped inside for an easy basket. Eastside led 21-15 with :57 to play in the third.
The Lady Tigers were stunned and out of rhythm. Eastside pushed the tempo and increased its pressure on the ball. Kapri Talley and Hillis got free and scored with under a minute to play in the third. Eastside pushed its lead to 25-15.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock a pass near midcourt was picked off by Mason. She took a couple dribbles to her left and heaved a shot just as the buzzer sounded. The very long 3-pointer dropped and the Lady Bulldogs led 28-15.
The shot at the buzzer rocked Irving College. The Lady Tigers refused to quit and Jillian Frankman led the fourth with six points. She went to the free-throw line and shot a perfect 4-of-4 in the final period. Lee was also perfect and buried a pair of free throws.
Eastside decided to use the clock as much as possible. Clara Brackley scored her only two points in the final period.
The Lady Bulldogs claimed the postseason championship by a final score of 33-23.
LADY BULLDOG SCORING – MaKenna Mason 16, Kapri Talley 6, Lexi Loader 4, Rylie Crrawford 3, Grayson Hillis 2, Clara Brackley 2
LADY TIGER SCORING – Jillian Frankman 7, Hannah Lee 5, Ella Bond 5, Emily Fults 4, Kenley Cathcart 2.