After loss in state title game, Cy Creek's Hunter and Harmon look to Texas futures
SAN ANTONIO — With 12 seconds left in Thursday night's Class 6A state championship game, Houston Cypress Creek coach Jennifer Alexander made the call.
Overcoming a double-digit deficit was finally inconceivable, so Alexander did the equivalent of waving a white flag. She pulled her starters.
Out came Haleen Harris.
Out came Ri’yah Francis and Taylor Jackson.
And out came Rori Harmon and Kyndall Hunter, too.
Harmon and Hunter spent the final seconds of their high school careers on the bench, watching as DeSoto celebrated a 53-37 win at the Alamodome. But as time ran out, a new clock began. Harmon and Hunter — both Texas signees and McDonald's All-Americans — can now start focusing on college.
"I'm really excited that it's Kyndall (that I'm going to college with)," Harmon said. "We just have to stick together mentally."
In the last game of a four-year varsity run, Hunter led all scorers with 17 points. Harmon contributed eight points and 11 rebounds.
A suffocating DeSoto defense, however, prevented a storybook ending. The backcourt of Harmon and Hunter combined to shoot just 10-for-33 from the field. Harmon was baited into seven turnovers.
Cy Creek (32-1) led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter. But DeSoto (28-2) ended the first half on a 10-0 run, and the three-point lead that it took into halftime only grew over the final two quarters.
“We knew if we shut (Harmon and Hunter) down, it was going to be harder for them to come out with the win," DeSoto guard Kendall Brown said. "We did our jobs."
The championship was DeSoto’s first. Cy Creek, meanwhile, was stuck with silver for a second straight season.
"To know that we worked so hard to get to this point and to get second place, it does hurt a lot," Harmon said. "Just knowing that we got here is a good honor. Congratulations to DeSoto."
After the final game of the UIL girls basketball season, Harmon and Hunter sat next to each other at a press conference. Both were still dressed in Cy Creek's blue and white uniforms. The next time they take the court together, they'll be wearing burnt orange.
Harmon, a 5-foot-6 point guard, was rated by ESPN HoopGurlz as the 10th-best prospect in the country. Harmon was the No. 3 point guard on that list, but Texas coach Vic Schaefer insisted in November that "we believe Rori is the best point guard in the country."
Schaefer described the 5-8 Hunter as an "incredible scorer and explosive player who can finish at all three levels." Hunter is considered a top-25 recruit.
Thanks to the additions of Harmon, Hunter and Oklahoma-raised forward Aaliyah Moore, Texas boasted the country's fourth-ranked recruiting class in November. Kobe King-Hawea and Femme Sikuzani also will arrive next season after spending this winter on the junior college circuit.
While Cy Creek was playing Thursday, Moore tweeted that her future pairing with Harmon and Hunter would be "very special."
Hunter said after the game that it was an honor to leave a legacy at her high school. Both Harmon and Hunter started as freshmen. Over the past four years, Cy Creek has made three state tournament appearances.
After the game, Alexander praised Hunter's and Harmon's leadership and character, saying that "you're not going to find two better young ladies than these two right here, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart."
"I'm excited to see them grow and see them at the next level," Alexander added. "They're probably going to get tired of me being a fan."