Coach Ryan Dollar, Mattie Dollar at home with Newcastle girls basketball

SAN ANTONIO — Ryan Dollar didn’t have to think long about making the move to Newcastle.

Dollar said he visited the school with his daughter, Mattie, and quickly realized it was the spot for them.

“It’s home,” Ryan Dollar said. “Grew up in Graham, so we’re right next door. We have family in Graham. Got a phone call, so Mattie and I went and checked it out. It was just the right fit, so we’re back in our home area, where we know people and those type of things. It’s just been a joy.”

Now, the Bobcats are headed to the Class 1A state championship.

It’s unprecedented territory for Newcastle, which reached its first state tournament this year. But Mattie Dollar entered the picture with Alamodome experience.

Dollar played at Martin’s Mill when her dad was an assistant last season. She scored a game-high 11 points in the Mustangs’ 32-31 Class 2A semifinal loss to eventual champion Lipan.

Newcastle is the junior forward’s third high school after starting at Anson, where Ryan Dollar had stints as head coach of the boys and girls basketball teams.

Still, Mattie said it was a near-seamless transition with the Bobcats.

“I’ve known some of (my teammates) for a long time,” she said, “so it was fun getting to come back and play with them. But all of these girls are my best friends and it’s cool getting to experience this together.”

Dollar looked comfortable back in San Antonio, too. She finished with a game-high 32 points on 11 of 18 shooting, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. Her offensive showcase helped Newcastle establish an early lead and settle in.

“I think overall it’s just helped all the other girls know that one of us has been here and done it,” Mattie said. “I think I kind of helped settle their nerves. It was just another game, I had to tell them that, and to not let the atmosphere and the environment get to them.”

Mattie Dollar may have gotten a similar message last year from her Martin’s Mill teammates. The Mustangs have made 17 of 19 state tournaments since 2006, including this week’s.

With an open day before facing No. 1 Turkey Valley for the state title, the Dollars will get a chance to see their former colleagues in the 2A semifinals.

“I love it,” Ryan Dollar said. “We were part of them last year. They still have a part of our hearts, too, so we’ll be here (Friday) morning cheering them on, ready to go.”

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