FORT WORTH, Texas –
Before Duncanville (Texas)
and MacArthur (Irving)
played for a spot in the state semifinals, Duncanville coach Cathy Self-Morgan proclaimed that it was the real Texas state championship game.
"The best teams are here," she said of the Class 5A Region I final at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.
She's probably right, considering Irving MacArthur (No. 6 in MaxPreps' Xcellent 25 rankings) and Duncanville (No. 14) have blown out most of their Texas competition this season. And had Saturday's battle between Duncanville and MacArthur been, officially, a state championship game, it would've been one of the best ones ever.
In a game that featured 16 lead changes, two of the nation's top recruits and an overtime, Duncanville pulled out a 62-55 victory against the defending 5A state champions.
"We wanted this so bad," said Duncanville senior Empress Davenport
, who has signed with Texas. "That's what overtime is for."
Overtime was also for nailbiting, as MacArthur (35-3) scored the first four points to take a 55-51 lead. All four points were scored by Alexis Jones
, the Duke signee and McDonald's All-American who finished with 31 points. But Jones didn't score again, and neither did MacArthur, as Duncanville scored the final 11 points to earn its first state berth since 2004.
"Our defense was the difference," Self-Morgan said, "as it has been all season long."
The other difference was Duncanville's depth. While Jones is one of the nation's top recruits, a player Self-Morgan compared to former Duncanville and Tennessee star Tamika Catchings, Duncanville's team effort was stronger. Ariel Atkins
had 15 points for Duncanville and Kiara Perry
had 12. Davenport also had 12, and she was also the primary defender on Jones, who had scored 44 points in Friday's regional semifinal.
"I knew that I was going to be guarding her from the start," Davenport said. "I only had two fouls, so I think I guarded her to the best of my ability."
Davenport got a lot of help. Every time Jones spun into the lane, there was at least one other Pantherette blocking her path. Despite that, Jones scored the first 14 points for MacArthur. Her first teammate to score was
, who made a layup with 5:53 left in the second quarter – off an assist by Jones.
The game was tight throughout, with neither team leading by more than four points until Duncanville's Perry scored on a short jumper to make the score 45-40 with 4:30 left in regulation. MacArthur, trying to be the first 5A team to win back-to-back state titles since Mansfield won four straight from 1999 to 2002, battled back and Jones sent the game to overtime with a pair of free throws with 24 seconds left.
"I thought we would take control in overtime," said Jones, who also had 13 rebounds. "I really don't think we came to play until the end."
Duncanville, which last won a state title in 2003, certainly came to play – as a team.
"Alexis is an All-American," Self-Morgan said. "We had to do it as a team."