Paradise’s history-making season came to an emotional end in the bi-district round of the state playoffs Tuesday at Fort Worth’s Brewer High School.
Leading by seven going into the final quarter, the Lady Panthers (23-10) could not hold onas their season came to a halt with the a 58-50 loss to Maypearl (22-10).
“We are not there yet,” Paradise coach Eddie Fortenberry said. “I’ve never been the type of coach to sugar-coat things. We are just not ready for it yet.
“I was hoping we were, but we beat Alvord that one night and ever since we haven’t played a lick.”
Despite a lack of offense in the third quarter, Paradise led 42-35 with eight minutes to play, but made too many mistakes down the stretch.
With 4:22 remaining Maypearl’s Brooke Martinez hit a 3-pointer sparking a 14-2 run giving them a 56-50 lead with under a minute to play.
“It’s disappointing. There is no other way around it other than it’s disappointing,” Fortenberry said. “I know we were better than them, but with some of the mistakes we made we didn’t deserve to win.
“We’ve got to get rid of not knowing how to win.”
Early on Paradise responded to the adversity, rallying back from a 6-2 deficit. A 7-0 run gave the Lady Panthers the lead midway through the first quarter. They led by two at the end of the first.
Paradise came out on fire opening the second quarter on a 12-4 run. The Lady Panthers took a 33-25 advantage to the half.
The Lady Panthers took a big step with their first playoff appearance in 11 years, but Fortenberry knows this shouldn’t have been the end of the line for a team that will have everybody coming back.
“It’s disappointing for them, for the coaches and for the community,” Fortenberry said. “We win 23 games, and this is the way we have to end it.”
Makala Neighbors led the way with 14, and Courtney Kerr had 12. Makenna Burt added 10. Kaylee McConnell tossed in eight, and Jett Preather scored five.
Maypearl was led by McKenzie Petty with 16, and Linzie Lewis had 12.