It didn't matter if Duncanville faced Cypress Creek star Rori Harmon in Saturday's UIL 6A girls basketball state championship game. The Pantherettes were on a mission to top their 26th UIL state final four appearance with their 11th state title in the sport.
Harmon, who missed Friday's state semifinal against McKinney because she broke a team rule, was also not available for Saturday's title game. Duncanville's motivated coaching staff and players definitely took advantage and rolled to a 63-47 victory at San Antonio's Alamodome.
"That one was for my mother," said Duncanville coach LaJeanna Howard. "I started this journey. I came down here last year and I started it for her when she passed away and I finished it this year in my first year where she sacrificed and made sure that I had a great education at Duncanville. To be able to finish it right here at home is amazing."
Argyle's girls basketball program needs no introduction because it entered Saturday's UIL 4A state title game as the five-time defending state champ. But, its attempt at six-in-a-row and seventh crown since 2006 was denied in Fairfield's 40-39 come-from-behind overtime victory at San Antonio's Alamodome.
Fairfield fell behind 16-3 by the end of the first quarter and trailed 25-11 at halftime. But, it turned on the gas in the second half. It forced overtime with a 23-9 point differential edge in the final two quarters of regulation and followed that with a 6-5 overtime victory.
Leading the charge was McKinna Brackens' 15 points and 10 rebounds, but don't overlook Jada Clark's six-point outing. The latter stepped up big with a late steal, layup and free throw to put her Eagles' program up three with six seconds left in overtime.
"Our team is tough, and Jada is the one that we go with," said Fairfield coach Sally Whitaker. "She's the example of the toughness. She plays more minutes than anybody, she never gets tired, she never comes out [and] she guards the best player. She's why we're tough, so I hope she looks back on that moment where she hit the game winner as a special moment and I will always remember."
Another key factor in the comeback was Fairfield's loyal crowd. It's been behind this team all season and brought louder-than-ever noise on its 239-mile trip from Freestone County.
"I don't think there's anybody left in Fairfield," said Whitaker. "You go to the River Walk and every two steps, there's somebody else from Fairfield. The support they've given these girls, it's not just the parents. It's ex-players, it's old men, it's random people that want to see them play."
On the other side, Argyle got a monster performance from future SMU player Rhyle McKinney, who finished with a game-high 25 points. She had a chance to tie the game with a trio of free throws late, but she only made the first two.
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