Cy-Fair tops Hightower to claim 5A state title

Houston Cy-Fair players hold their trophy after defeating Fort Bend Hightower 65-41 in their University Interscholastic League Girl's Class 5A championship basketball game Saturday, March 6, 2010, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)

March 7, 2010 8:29:13 AM PST
Fort Bend Hightower used twin sophomore post players Taylor and Tyler Gilbert to try to stop Chiney Ogwumike from winning a career-capping state championship. They needed triplets -- or more.

Ogwumike put up a final dominating performance with 31 points and 18 rebounds and Cypress Fairbanks won its second Class 5A state championship in three years, 65-41, Saturday night.

Ogwumike won a state championship with Cypress Fairbanks (36-1) in 2008 and this one was all but over after the first quarter. She scored eight of her teams' first 10 points and had 14 in the first quarter as Cypress Fairbanks raced to a 27-4 lead and never looked back.

"We always want to come out with a chip on our shoulder," Ogwumike said. "The energy we brought was everywhere. It was a great moment for us."

Cassie Peoples added 18 points for Cypress Fairbanks. Azalea Hall scored eight points for Hightower (35-3).

Ogwumike, a McDonald's All-American, is the top-rated high school prospect in the country. She has signed with Stanford, where she will join sister Nnemkadi, a former national player of the year who leads the No. 2 Cardinal in scoring. They played as a tandem on Cypress Fairbanks 2008 championship team.

Cypress Fairbanks lost in the 2009 semifinals and Saturday night was the last chance for Chiney to win a title without her big sister. They spoke on the phone before the game.

"I know she's happy for me. She just told me to play hard and have fun," Chiney Ogwumike said. "My thinking was just go for it."

In the semifinals Friday night, Chiney grabbed a Class 5A tournament record 25 rebounds. In the final, she played fast and loose and Hightower and the Gilberts were simply overwhelmed from the opening tip. She was 14-of-19 shooting for the game, with four steals and three blocks without a turnover.

"She's a monster inside," Hightower coach Deborah Mize said. "(The Gilberts) are very much sophomores, but the talent is there and he sky's the limit for them."

v Ogwumike dominated with quickness and skill in the post in the first half, ducking under or around defenders for easy layups or snagging passed from Peoples on the run for fast-break layups.

And when Peoples wasn't passing to Ogwumike, she pulled up for four 3-pointers in the first half. The last put Cypress Fairbanks up 45-9 late in the second quarter.

Cypress Fairbanks shot 61 percent in the first half and by the time it was over, Hightower was just trying to figure out what had just happened. When the teams met in the second game of the season, Cypress Fairbanks barely escaped with a 5-point win.

"That was a long first half," Mize said. "They made some early shots and one mistake topped another mistake."

Perhaps not wanting to take much more punishment, Hightower was late returning to the court at the end of halftime and didn't even bother with the shoot around.

And then it started again.

Ogwumike stole the first pass Tyler Gilbert tried to throw to her sister, then made two free throws for Cypress Fairbanks' first points of the quarter. Two minutes later, she poked the ball away to get in front of a fastbreak for a layup and 49-19 lead.

When Ogwumike went to the bench late in the fourth quarter, even Hightower fans stood and applauded. Now she gets to join her sister in college, where the duo can see if they can win an NCAA title together.

"They've done so much for this program," Cypress Fairbanks coach Ann Roubique said. "They've done so much to make us proud."


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