It doesn’t take long into a conversation with Fred Griffin to realize just getting to the state tournament isn’t enough.

Been there. Done that.

The 23rd-year Brownsboro High School coach says it’s time for more.

No longer satisfied with just being a participant in the Class 3A Final Four, the Brownsboro Bearettes want to become the first girls basketball team in school history to reach the title game.

“We’re excited to be going, but we want to make it to the title game,” Griffin said just minutes after the Bearettes claimed the Region II-AAA title with a hard-earned 52-46 win over Liberty-Eylau. “If we make it there, then we will do what we can to win it.”

Standing between the Bearettes (34-3) and becoming the most successful team in school history is China Spring (32-4) in a 3:30 p.m. semifinal Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center on the University of Texas campus.

Marion (33-2) and Abilene Wylie (26-5) meet in the other semifinal at 2 p.m.. The championship game is Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

The Bearettes, who have won 21 straight games since dropping back-to-back games during their own Great East Texas Shootout in December, are making the school’s sixth state tournament appearance. The previous five in 1967, ’81, ‘’88, ’94 and 2003 all ended with semifinal losses.

Griffin, owner of a 624-161 record at Brownsboro, has led the Bearettes to Austin four times. This time, he takes a senior-laden squad to the state capital. Seven seniors are on the 14-player Brownsboro roster.

“It would have been real disappointing for this group of kids, especially these seniors (to have not played in Austin),” Griffin said. “These seniors have worked so hard. And not just this year, but all the way back to Little Dribblers and then in junior high and on the JV.

“They deserve to be in Austin.”

To reach their goal of the title game, the Bearettes will have to earn it. China Spring, in its second state tournament and first since 1989, is considered a well-balanced, very good rebounding team.

They don’t appear to be real athletic, but they are pretty athletic,” Griffin said. “I’m not sure they like to play defense. Just from what I’ve seen on videos, and that could just be those game, it appears as though they just try to outscore you.

“I feel we can beat them, but I'm sure they feel same way about us. When you get this far, anything can happen.”

China Spring was a 66-50 winner over Lorena in the Region III-AAA title game Saturday, representing the fifth win this season over Lorena this year for sixth-year coach Teresa Durham’s Lady Cougars. Lorena finished second to China Spring in district.

Lorena had topped China Spring four times in the 2004-05 season.

Jessica Hannah, a 5-7 junior guard, led the Lady Cougars with 18 points in the title game, earning her tournament MVP honors. Anna Raines, a 5-7 senior, also had 18 points in the game.

The Lady Cougars were 16 of 19 from the free throw line in the regional championship game.

China Spring’s top inside threat is 5-11 sophomore post Karlyn Meyers. She is considered the top rebounder on the team and a threat off penetration.

“From the coaches I’ve talked to (about the Lady Cougars), they are like us in a lot of ways,” Griffin said. “The main way they are like us is that they have two or three girls that average 12 to 13 points a game and have two or three who can score 18 or 20 in a game.”

The Lady Cougars downed Hempstead (76-38), Robinson (47-32) and Orangefield (57-56) to reach the regional title game.

In addition to Saturday’s win over Liberty-Eylau, Brownsboro owns playoff decisions over Atlanta (60-40), Gladewater (62-46) and Kennedale (70-61).

Marion is making its sixth state tournament appearance and first since 1993 and Abilene Wylie is in Austin for a fifth time and first since 2001.

There will be a new state champion crowned in Class 3A. Defending champion Canyon was ousted in the second round by Snyder, which eventually lost to Abilene Wylie.

“I feel good about our chances,” Griffin said. “I’m ready and I know the girls are. We are ready to get down there.”

If Griffin and Bearettes have their way, they’ll be around Saturday when the champion is crowned.

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