Lady Timberwolves Win Program’s First State Title

Players Reflect on Victory

Smiling+together%2C+the+Lady+Timberwolves+hold+the+5A+Girls+Basketball+State+Champion+trophy+on+March+10.+After+a+neck+and+neck+game%2C+the+team+won+46-39+against+Frisco+Liberty.+%22To+win+this+state+title+is+truly+a+blessing%2C%22+sophomore+captain+and+point+guard%2C+Gisella+Maul%2C+said.+%22We+worked+so+hard+to+get+to+this+moment%2C+we+faced+so+many+adversities+and+listened+to+to+many+people+doubt+us%2C+but+in+the+end+we%27re+the+state+champs.%22+

Jordan Garza

Smiling together, the Lady Timberwolves hold the 5A Girls Basketball State Champion trophy on March 10. After a neck and neck game, the team won 46-39 against Frisco Liberty. “To win this state title is truly a blessing,” sophomore captain and point guard, Gisella Maul, said. “We worked so hard to get to this moment, we faced so many adversities and listened to to many people doubt us, but in the end we’re the state champs.”

Estefani Rios, Editor-in-Chief

Walking into the Alamodome on March 10, the girls basketball team was greeted by a swarm of cameras on the court ready to capture the moment the 5A State Champion was named. Though not as many people as past years were allowed in due to COVID restrictions, the ones that were there were loud, and increased in volume as the seconds dwindled down and with a final score of 46-39, the Lady Timberwolves were crowned State Champions after beating Frisco Liberty. 

“It’s honestly a surreal feeling,” senior captain and point guard, Sarai Estupinan, said. “I feel incredibly blessed and honored that I had the opportunity to play the state championship game with this incredible team. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to finish my senior year. It was a real life, picture-perfect ending to an amazing four year journey.” 

Going into this final game, the team had 24 wins under their belt and the titles of district, regional and state semifinal champions. The team won the first five games of the playoffs “by more than 36 points per game,” according to KXAN.

“We were confident going into the game because of the way we prepare,” junior captain and power forward, Shelby Hayes, said. “We watch film, we practice hard, we know what we are doing and so all we had to go out and do this game was execute, and we did.”

After falling short last year at the regional championship against College Station, 54-58, sophomore captain and point guard, Gisella Maul, said that the team was determined to make it further this year and claim the state title. 

“We knew every single thing that held us back from winning it last year and we took that and made the necessary adjustments,” Maul said. “This team was so motivated from losing last year that we were all thirsty for revenge. Our team chemistry is really what kept us together and it definitely showed on the court.” 

Recognizing that Frisco Liberty was defending their state title pushed the team to make surprise plays in hopes to throw them off their game, according to Hayes. 

“We knew that Liberty was going to scout us and so we put in a few different plays that would trick them up,” Hayes said. “For the most part, we stuck to what had gotten us to that point and we came out on top.”

As the game progressed, the teams were neck and neck. Maul said that this pushed her to ensure that when she controlled the ball, her moves were with intent. 

“I knew that every single shot I took had to be purposeful and couldn’t be rushed,” Maul said. “Towards the end, when the game got closer and closer, I knew it was my time to take over and start getting to the basket more and more. I think that really opened the game up for us” 

Winning with a sevenpoint lead marked the program’s first state title. Adding to the team’s success is Maul who was named MVP after scoring 15 points in the game. 

“I knew before stepping in that I had dreamed of this moment ever since I was a little kid,” Maul said. “It’s everyone’s fantasy to be able to compete for a state title and I knew it was a blessing. I couldn’t have that MVP plaque sitting in my room if it weren’t for the amazing people around me. To be able to do my part to help the team win is always a good feeling.” 

This accomplishment was not possible without the determination of the team. In a regular basketball season, Estupinan said the team would take at least one practice off. However, she said this season, the team took no breaks. 

“This season we literally did not take a day off,” Estupinan said. “Even when there was a snow storm we found a way to meet up as players and get some teamwork in because we couldn’t practice at the school with our coaches. In a season that was very uncertain because of COVID, we knew that every single game or practice could be our last one and this team did not take that lightly.” 

Additionally, the girls contribute this season’s success to Coach Ott and the way he led with grace and dignity. 

“He is the definition of what a coach is supposed to be,” Estupinan said. “This year, he sacrificed so much time and effort to put this team in the best position to be successful. This man will literally lose sleep over planning a practice plan for us to have the next day. He has worked for this moment and that’s why whenever the lights were shining and the cameras were on he didn’t shy away from the moment.” 

Hayes agrees and the team is fortunate to have Ott as a coach. She said that Ott is very dedicated and spends a lot of time ensuring that the team continues to improve 

“Coach Ott is an unbelievable coach,” Hayes said. “He spends countless hours helping us succeed, and I am so lucky to have him as a coach. He cares so much for each and every one of us, and his outstanding coaching ability is a big part [of] why we won a state championship.” 

Ending her season with a state win after four years in the program felt like the cherry on top, according to Estupinan. In the sixth grade, Estupinan told her dad that she wanted to make varsity as a freshman and win a state title. Six years later, she’s part of the Lady Timberwolves, committed to St. Mary’s University and state title holder.  

“I feel like everyone around me has watched me grow up into this person that I have become, and to think that I won’t be able to share my life with these coaches and teammates in the same way I have these past four years is the most upsetting part,” Estupinan said. “I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude for the opportunity I have been given this year not only to play on this team but to have been able to see this four-year journey through with my coaches and teammates.”