DaNeisha Threatt wrapped Millwood coach Arnelia Spears in a tight hug. Both were on the verge of tears as they celebrated winning the Class 3A girls state championship against Prague at State Fair Arena with a 64-50 victory over the Lady Devils.
Prague cut Millwood's lead to 48-44 with 6:03 remaining in the fourth quarter, but fell short. Millwood (24-6) would never trail in the contest and built a lead that grew to as many as 15 points Saturday evening.
The Lady Devils (27-2) ended their compelling season with a loss. Prague senior Brooke Watkins led the Lady Devils in scoring with 14 points and junior Whitney Stotler ripped down a team-high 11 rebounds.
For Spears and seniors Quira Demery and Lauren Fonteno, the night was a little more precious, a little more memorable because they'd been to the title game three times before and finished second best.
“It felt like getting punched the chest,” Spears said of losing those title games.
She didn't want to feel that way again. Demery knew how her coach felt and determined not to let her down.
She was happy to win and happier still to win for Spears.
“We finally won it for her,” Demery said. “I feel good for her. We needed to do this for her.”
Demery notched a double-double, scoring 21 points and pulling down 11 boards and garnering four steals in her final game as Falcon.
“Quira just came through,” Spears said. “She works so hard, she needed that. That's the way to go out.”
After suffering an abysmal night at the free-throw line in Millwood's semifinal game against Kansas, Demery hit 9-of-10 shots from the charity stripe. Prague forced the Falcons to win the game from the line in the fourth quarter, but Millwood was ready — able — to complete the task.
The Falcons hit 27-of-39 free-throw attempts, including 7-of-12 and 8-of-12 shots by juniors Teanna Reid and DaNeisha Threatt, respectively.
“This is something that we talked about,” Spears said of the Falcons' free-throw shooting. “It's something we discussed real hard before we left the gym.”
Fonteno remained elated while cradling the gold ball in the postgame melee. She was perfect from the floor and free-throw line, scoring seven points and snatching three rebounds.
“We're seniors, we had to do it,” she said. “We had to come through. No other way to leave.”