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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After falling 41-34 to Canyon in the 2015-2016 UIL 5A state championship game and 47-42 to Amarillo in the 2018-2019 UIL 5A state title game, Frisco Liberty finally earned its first season-ending championship in program history. The Redhawks surprised College Station 44-41 in Thursday's state semifinal and San Antonio Veterans Memorial 35-26 in Saturday's state title game to grab the 2019-2020 crown.
The first quarter of runs began with Frisco Liberty's early 6-2 start, but San Antonio Veterans Memorial ended the opening frame with the final nine. The Patriots were led by Texas A&M signee Sahara Jones because she scored eight of her game-high 15 points during this time and her first three-pointer gave her team its first lead at 8-6.
But, Frisco Liberty stormed back with its defense. The Redhawks only allowed two, five and eight points to San Antonio Veterans Memorial in the next three quarters. That allowed them to take the lead by halftime and start pulling away in the second half.
"It takes a mental fortitude [and] it takes competitive stamina," Frisco Liberty coach Ross Reedy said of his players' defense. "In a game of this magnitude, it's easy to get wide eyed, but I think they were composed."
VYPE Player of the Game Jazzy Owens-Barnett helped wrap up Frisco Liberty's state championship victory. She recorded five points on a pair of made field goals and a successful free throw attempt in the first three quarters before executing on seven of nine free throw attempts and another field goal in a nine-point final period. She finished with a team-high 14 points.
"It's bittersweet," said Owens-Barnett. "I'm so happy for the win and I'm super excited, but I want another one. I feel kinda greedy, so I'm ready to get back in the gym, get home and get to work."
VYPE Player of the Game Jazzy Owens-Barnett scored 9/14 points in 4Q of Frisco Liberty’s 35-26 UIL 5A state champio… https://t.co/mLv9SyOM2C— VYPE DFW (@VYPE DFW)1583624887.0
Along with Owens-Barnett, Frisco Liberty also got an important 10-point outing from Maya Jain.