Gruver head coach Shannon Fisher hugs senior Mattie McCloy after the Lady Hounds on their first state championship in school history, 42-39, against Muenster in a UIL Class 2A state title game in San Antonio on Saturday. [Matt Smith/ For Press Pass Sports]
Saturday afternoon’s UIL Class 2A state championship game between Gruver and Muenster was everything a state championship game should be.
Neither team led by more than six points and it wasn’t decided until almost the very end. But when it was over, only one team could bring home its first state championship.
And for Gruver, the third time was indeed the charm.
Gruver‘s Kami Whitehead hit the biggest two free throws of her life with six seconds left in the game which proved to be the difference, as the Lady Greyhounds beat Muenster at San Antonio’s Alamodome 42-39 for the state title. It was Gruver’s first state championship after losing previous trips to the final in 2003 and 2015.
“It took belief,” Gruver coach Shannon Fisher said. “It took all 13 of those girls believing in what we were preaching and what we were saying needed to be done. It took the understanding that we were going to have to persevere. There were going to be a lot of things that weren’t going to go our direction or our way sometimes but if we want it we’re going to have to be willing to do whatever it is to take to get it.”
The game was tight throughout, as it was tied at 17-17 at halftime. Camryn Armes made two free throws to give Gruver (38-2) a 24-18 lead in the third quarter, but that was the biggest lead either team enjoyed.
The entire fourth quarter was just as intense as each possession took on a heightened urgency. Muenster (36-5) led 36-34 with 2:26 left after Sarah Monday scored on a layup.
Gruver sophomore Camryn Armes was named Class 2A MVP. [Matt Smith/ Press Pass Sports]
But when Armes hit a 3-pointer to make it 37-36 with 2:04 left in the game, the Lady Greyhounds never trailed again. That didn’t mean it was easy.
Armes, a sophomore, and Class 2A Tournament MVP, had a game-high 16 points and was Gruver’s only scorer in double figures. She filled a void that Muenster was determined to take away. The Lady Hornets constantly pressured and face guarded fellow sophomore Bailey Maupin, whose offensive output was limited to four free throws.
“I knew when (Muenster’s Kaley Berkley) was face guarding Bailey it was my time to step up because I haven’t really been there, so tonight I was like ’It’s your time,’” Armes said.
It more or less became a free throw shooting contest down the stretch which the Lady Greyhounds ended up winning. Armes made two from the charity stripe with 1:26 left before Monday scored on another layup 15 seconds later to tie it at 39.
That’s the way it stayed until six seconds remained, when Whitehead stole the ball and was fouled, sending her to the line with the state championship in the balance. Earlier in the quarter Whitehead, who came in off the bench, had missed two free throws.
“I felt a lot of pressure up there,” Whitehead said. “I knew I just had to relax and shoot. It was just another free throw just like we shoot 1,000 times in practice.”
This time the repetition paid off, as Whitehead made both free throws of a one-and-one situation to make it 41-39.
Gruver then got a turnover on the ensuing possession and Armes came up with the ball and went to the line. She made the first free throw to provide the final margin and Muenster never got off a shot.
Whitehead and Keerstin Babbs came up big off the bench for the Lady Greyhounds, as they both had six points and Whitehead pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons on this team,” Fisher said. “Those two girls came off the bench and they hit some key shots for us. I think that’s just kind of a definition of who we are and the fact that we’ve got the personnel.”
Gruver 42, Muenster 39
Muenster (36-5): Kaitlin Hennigan 3 4-9 10, Marti McCoy 3 6-9 13, Kaley Berkley 0 0-0 0, Sarah Monday 3 0-0 7, Annie Anderle 3 0-0 9, Jada Binder 0 0-0 0, Meadow Walterscheid 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 10-18 39.
Gruver (38-2): Andi Salgado 1 2-2 4, Bailey Maupin 0 4-4 4, Maddie McCloy 1 0-0 2, Camryn Armes 4 5-6 16, Brenna Butler 2 0-0 4, Keerstin Babbs 2 0-0 6, Marlie Kelp 0 0-0 0, Kami Whitehead 2 2-4 6. Totals: 12 13-16 42.
Muenster 8 17 23 39
Gruver 10 17 26 42
3-point goals: Muenster 5 (McCoy 1, Monday 1, Anderle 3), Gruver 5 (Armes 3, Babbs 2). Total fouls: Muenster 14, Gruver 18. Fouled out: Monday, Salgado. Technical fouls: None.