WYLIE — Anna’s Coyotes collected a 44-31 victory over Quinlan Ford at Wylie High School on Tuesday, Feb. 21 — but don’t let the final score fool you. The Coyotes were in-control throughout this one and likely didn’t need much more than second gear to do it. Plus, the Panthers (16-17) popped a face-saving 3 at the buzzer. But, really, once this first-round playoff match was over, only one thing mattered: Anna basketball had won its first-ever postseason game — by any score.

“That’s the first one in school history,” Anna guard Keamoni Mattocks said shortly after hoisting the bi-district trophy with teammates. “I’m glad to be able to do it with this group of guys. I’ve been doing it with them since middle school. It feels great.”

“Man, it’s perfect,” fellow guard Elijah Smith said of the historic win. “A huge success for Anna. We’ve just got to keep pushing all the way. … My mindset was catch the ball, give my team a good look and then try to score.”

What did Anna head coach Kyle Phifer like most about the game? Not screens, no-look passes or zone assignments. “The final score,” he said. “It’s always good to see that, especially in a playoff game. … I think the biggest thing for these kids is just getting that first win in the playoffs.”

Mattocks had the hot hand again for Anna this night, tallying 22 points as Smith pumped in 10. Quinlan Ford’s Preston House, the only Panther posting double-digits, collected 10 points as well

Anna will face Dallas Carter (19-10) in area round on Friday, Feb. 24, at Plano Senior High.

“I thought we had a little nerves early,” Phifer said. “We were able to hit some shots to get us going. The second half we did some things that kind of slowed them down offensively. So that’s always a positive. … They ran a lot of different defenses at us, so we really focused on keeping it simple, offensively, trying to get easy buckets out of our offense. Defensively, it was just staying solid. They run the flex so it was very good for us to get to guard it.”

“We did a good job of kind of taking them out of what they wanted to do. I feel like we bunched it up. … They had some good counters there at the end, they hit some shots.”

Smith opened the night’s scoring with a near-straight-on 3-pointer. The Panthers (16-17) answered, holding a brief 5-3 lead, before Mattocks struck with a trey and a driving layup that put Anna in front for good. Donald Maloid closed out the frame with a top-of-the-key 3 to boost the Coyotes’ margin to 13-7.

“Coach always tells us you’ve got to start from the jump,” Mattocks said. “The first four minutes of every game is the most important thing. We came out with a lot of energy and intensity. I think we brought it as a team, played collectively. We weren’t selfish and I think that’s what helped us get the lead.”

Anna’s advantage moved to 14 points in the second, at 22-8, as Mattocks bombed another 3 and Lawrence Goade bagged two swishes from beyond the arc. Smith added another trey from the deep left side before Ford rallied for five points to trail, 25-17, with 35 seconds left in the half. That was more than enough time for Mattocks to dance through the lane for two more at the buzzer, lifting the Coyotes to a 27-17 halftime lead.

In the third stanza, Anna’s defense really clamped down, forcing several Panther possessions into extended passing-slash-dribbling forays in search of a shot. After a Dillon Lewis put-back layup, another Mattocks special was served up from downtown and the Coyotes led, 33-19. He canned another as the third-quarter buzzer sounded, sending Anna’s lead to 15 points.

In the fourth, the Coyotes’ margin swelled to 17, effectively ending the contest. The Coyotes added only four Mattocks free throws and a Smith layup in the period — and that was plenty.