The Hightower Hurricanes beat Manvel 47-39 in the Region 3 finals at Coleman Coliseum last Saturday to earn a spot in the Class 5A state tournament.
The Lady Canes will play Amarillo on Thursday in the 5A semifinals at the San Antonio Alamo Dome.
The Hurricanes were the more aggressive team from the start as they jumped to a 9-2 lead and finished the first quarter with a 14-7 lead.
“We came out with the mentality that we were going to work harder than them. We wanted to show that from the start,” Tae’lor Purvis said.
Winnie Kuimi and Aresa Gipson had four points each in the quarter. With 1:35 to go in the second quarter, Manvel cut the lead to 19-13, but Morgan Strawder and Purvis hit back to back three pointers to give the Hurricanes a 25-13 halftime lead.
“I just wanted to get our momentum back,” Strawder said. “It seemed like they were on a run, and I just wanted to slow them down.”
With a 29-13 lead with 4:48 to go in the third quarter, Kuimi, the Hurricane’s 6-foot, 4-inch dominating post player, went to the bench with her third foul.
“Winnie is a real defensive force under the basket. She shuts down the paint,” Hightower Coach Deborah Mize said.
Manvel immediately attacked the basket and closed the third quarter on a 12-3 run, trailing by 32-25. Kuimi re-entered the game to start the fourth quarter and immediately scored a basket from the block to slow the Manvel run.
“I just played hard and went after all of the defensive rebounds, and tried to motivate my team to win,” Kuimi said.
Manvel kept up the pressure and came within two points at 40-38 with 2:15 to go in the game.
“We knew they were going to come with a run, but we had to clamp down on the defense. It was great team defense,” Purvis said. “It was a great team win.”
Then, with 1:35 to go, Kuimi scored and Destini Lombard stole the ball and scored on a layup to ice the game for the Hurricanes. The final score was 47-39.
Kuimi led the Hurricanes with 16 points, eight of them in the fourth quarter, and Lombard added eight.
“I am really proud of this team. We won as a team,” Mize said.