BETHANY — Mount St. Mary learned from last season's heartache.
After falling in the Class 4A quarterfinals to Perkins-Tryon last season in the first state tournament appearance in program history, the Rockets experienced a new high Thursday night.
They jumped to a 19-0 lead against No. 6 Byng and held off the Pirates' charge for a 51-37 victory at the Sawyer Center for the program's first girls basketball state tournament victory.
“That's not enough just to be here this year,” Mount St. Mary junior Kaely Bond said. “We made it for the first time in school history last year and it's not enough just to be here. We want to go win it.”
The Rockets (24-5) now face top-ranked Anadarko in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the Sawyer Center.
And as quickly as the players turned their attention to Anadarko, they jumped on Byng in the first quarter with four 3-pointers and a plethora of forced turnovers to take a 21-2 lead.
The lead was built to 25-3 before Byng closed the second half on a 17-4 run.
“I knew we were ready to play and I knew Byng was going to make a run to get back into it,” Mount St. Mary coach Rory Hamilton said. “They're too well coached and too good of a team.
“We've been in this situation several times this year and we didn't panic.”
Byng (26-4) got within four in the third quarter, but that's as close as it would ever get.
Bond finished with 24 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Jordan Hagood added 10 points, including five crucial free throws down the stretch.
Byng did not score until Breecia Crawford made a free throw with 1:56 remaining in the first quarter. The Pirates also made their first field goal with 6:30 remaining in the second on a putback by Alexis Hill, who finished with 14 points before fouling out early in the fourth.
Once she fouled out, things really went Mount St. Mary's way as it closed the game on an 8-0 run.
And as his players embraced following the victory, all Hamilton could do was smile and watch.
“I tell the girls all the time there's not many firsts in life and this is a first they're always going to remember,” he said. “It's something they can tell their kids about.”