Moments after defeating Sunnyvale 46-38 in the 4A state championship, the Waco La Vega girls took the championship plaque to their crowd and presented it to them.
After all, the Lady Pirates faithful had earned a piece of that trophy too after years of waiting for it to return.
“We were able to bring something back to the 05 that we hadn’t seen in girls basketball since 2014,” La Vega head coach Marcus Willis said. “They’re just as much state champions as we are. Without them, we’re not state champions.”
The standard established by Waco La Vega’s undefeated 2014 squad still looms large, even if most of the current players were too young to appreciate that season at the moment. That’s because the banner still hangs across the Lady Pirates’ home gym.
Kiyleyah Parr spent the entire season looking at that banner day in and day out at practice as she worked for her own state championship. Now the junior guard will have a banner of her own, and an MVP trophy to go along with it.
While she didn’t light up the scoreboard as she did in the semifinals with 23 points and the game winning layup, Parr served as the floor general as La Vega faced a Sunnyvale team that had won their playoff games by an average of 26.2 points. The junior dished out four assists to go with her seven rebounds, and contributed on the defensive end with three steals.
“I think every team in the State of Texas wants a Kiyleyah Parr,” Willis said. “I’m just glad she’s on our side and I’m not having to coach against her.”
He did, however, have to coach against another offensive weapon in Sunnyvale’s senior guard, Micah Russell. But Russell, an Ouachita Baptist signee, required a team effort.
Senior guard Ja’Dyn Iglehart started the game face guarding Russell wherever she went on the court. Then, when Iglehart needed a breather, senior Andrea Johnson took over and did the exact same thing. Russell, who scored 28 points and shot 5-for-10 from the three-point line in their semifinal win, was held to nine points on 3-for-21 shooting.
La Vega stormed out to a 16-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter and never trailed in the game. The fourth quarter got dicey, however, for the Lady Pirates after Russell hit a three pointer to cut the lead to 37-35. La Vega sophomore forward Angela Carroll gave her team breathing room when she grabbed the rebound on a missed free throw and laid it up. She then stole the ball on La Vega’s full court press and cashed in another two points.
After Parr hit two clutch free throws, Carroll cemented the championship with yet another putback. The sophomore finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
“It feels good (after) all of the hard work, early morning practices, late afternoon practices, getting in shots after practices or coming up on a Sunday morning,” Parr said. “All our hard work has paid off.”