There was no dog pile Saturday for Preston. Instead, it was only just a few hugs and cheering.
From Day 1, the Pirates had their eyes fixed on winning the Class 2A championship. When they realized that goal was becoming a reality, no big celebration was necessary.
After holding off a furious rally from Cordell, third-ranked Preston won the gold ball for the first time since 2009 with a 45-41 victory at State Fair Arena.
“About 30 seconds left, we felt like we had it,” Preston sophomore Chelsea Dungee said.
Even if the Pirates felt they had the win locked up at that point, it didn’t appear that way.
No. 5 Cordell was in comeback mode, rallying from a 13-point deficit to cut the Pirates’ lead to 43-39 with 1:30 remaining.
Dungee, though, had an answer with two game-sealing free throws with 8.4 seconds remaining. They were her only points in the quarter, but her biggest of the day.
“Towards the end of the game, I don’t want to say we felt like we had it but we probably got a little comfortable,” Dungee said. “That’s probably why they came back, but we just tried to pick it up when we realized that we still had three minutes left in the game.”
Dungee, who is verbally committed to Oklahoma, had also provided a big lift early in the game, scoring 14 of her game-high 23 points in the first quarter to erase an early 16-7 deficit. Preston ended the final 10 minutes of the half on a 21-5 run to take a 28-21 lead at halftime.
“She set the tone right from the beginning that she was going to lead us to a championship right from the start,” Preston coach Jeff Weedn said. “Then to finish it off the way she did, it just proves how special she is as a player.”
Cordell (27-2) opened on fire behind senior Gabbie Parsons. She scored their first 10 points and finished with 22, including six in the final quarter.
But she wasn’t enough as the Pirates claimed what they felt like was theirs all along. The championship is their seventh in school history.
Weedn guaranteed there will be a celebration later, too.
“We’re going to celebrate,” he said. “Trust me.”