Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Unstoppable? Duncanville girls have been dominant during astounding 55-game winning streak
The undefeated Duncanville girls basketball team isn’t unbeatable.
A handful of teenagers are liable to have an off-day. But you’d have to go back more than a year to find the last time it happened to state-ranked No. 1 Duncanville.
Duncanville has shown no signs of slowing down. It won the most lopsided Class 5A state championship game ever last season, a 69-31 blowout of Spring Dekaney, and is off to a 27-0 start to the 2012-13 campaign.
So can Duncanville be stopped? It is certainly on pace to become one of the best and most decorated teams the Dallas-Fort Worth area has produced.
DeSoto, ranked 11th in the state, will be the next to try and take down Duncanville. Larry Goad’s squad has already fallen to Duncanville once this season.
“We need to play our ‘A’ game,” Goad said, “and hope they’re playing their ‘B’ game.”
Duncanville went undefeated in 43 games during the 2012 calendar year. It’s on a 55-game winning streak that dates to an 82-28 win over Denton Ryan on Dec. 6, 2011.
Three days earlier, on Dec. 3, Duncanville lost its only game last season, 58-50 to Plano West. So if anyone possesses the key to beating Duncanville, surely it’s Plano West coach Don Patterson.
“You just have to be ready for the pressure and shoot the ball well,” Patterson said. “Keep turnovers down and make sure they don’t get anything easy.”
That’s been easier said than done for opponents this year. Duncanville ranks first among area 5A teams in scoring offense and defense.
Defense gets boost
The team is shooting 48 percent from the floor, which is about 10 percentage points higher than last season. It’s also allowing seven fewer points against.
The defensive improvement is credited, in part, to boys basketball coach Danny Henderson, who Duncanville athletic director/girls basketball coach Cathy Self-Morgan hired away from Flower Mound Marcus last year. Self-Morgan said she’s been using his defense — a man-to-man variation — to great effect.
“I tease that I hired Henderson away from Marcus because he beat Duncanville the last three years,” Self-Morgan said. “But it’s really because I wanted his defense. … He won’t do a clinic on it, but I knew if I hired him I could get it.”
Last season, Duncanville trotted out a five-guard starting lineup, and Self-Morgan rarely subbed the starters out. The veteran coach has more options this season, including forwards Destiny Means and Antoina Robinson. Means signed with UT-San Antonio, and Robinson signed with Arkansas-Little Rock.
Junior guards Ariel Atkins and Tasia Foman are both being heavily recruited, and senior Kiara Perry signed with SMU. All three are averaging double figures in scoring, and they are among the area leaders in assists with a combined 283.
Those assists, and Duncanville’s teamwork, are the foundation of the squad. Even the loss of star Empress Davenport, who is now starting as a freshman at Texas, hasn’t set Duncanville back.
“Every team is unique and has their own personality and identity,” Self-Morgan said. “This group is at least as good as last year’s. I can’t say they are better, but they’re as good.”
Self-Morgan’s team is actually ahead of last season’s pace. Duncanville has defeated Plano West — the No. 3 team in the state — twice. The first victory was a six-point win — the closest any team has played Duncanville this season — and the second was a 32-point blowout in the final of the Sandra Meadows Classic.
Better than 2011-12?
Like Self-Morgan, Patterson couldn’t say with any certainty whether this season’s Duncanville team is superior to last season’s 40-1 squad.
“It’s a toss-up,” Patterson said. “I’d like to see them play each other.”
If any district in the state is capable of producing a win against Duncanville, it’s 7-5A. Four of the area’s top five teams — Duncanville, Cedar Hill, Mansfield Timberview and DeSoto — compete in the district.
Andrea Robinson knows what it takes to beat a great team. Her Cedar Hill squads have collected some impressive wins over the years, including two against Irving MacArthur in 2010.
MacArthur featured two of the best players this area has produced in Odyssey Sims and Alexis Jones, who were averaging 22.5 and 17.1 points, respectively. Sims is now an All-American at No. 1 Baylor, and Jones is starting as a freshman at No. 4 Duke.
“Odyssey and Alexis were a tough combo to coach against,” Andrea Robinson said. “But I don’t think anybody is unbeatable. Odyssey and Alexis weren’t unbeatable.”
Duncanville beat Cedar Hill in typical blowout fashion, 51-30, when the two teams last met. That might actually qualify as a close game for Duncanville, which is averaging a 30-point margin of victory.
This Duncanville team’s place among the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s greatest 5A schools would be cemented with a second consecutive championship.
Only two Dallas-Fort Worth area girls basketball teams have repeated as 5A state champs. The most recent was Mansfield, which won four in a row from 1999 to 2002 behind Erin Grant, who went on to star at Texas Tech. Those teams went 145-6 during the four-year run.
The other back-to-back champion was Duncanville, which won three in a row from 1988 to 1990.
Duncanville could also become the first undefeated state champion since Rockwall went 40-0 in 2007. Rockwall beat a Houston Cy-Fair squad that featured future Stanford stars Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike in the title game.
But first, Duncanville will have to get by area-ranked No. 5 DeSoto on Friday night. Then beat No. 4 Mansfield Timberview next week. And No. 3 Cedar Hill the week after that.
That’s no small task for any team, even if Duncanville has already beaten each by at least 18 points.
“Duncanville is just able to rise to another level,” Cedar Hill’s Andrea Robinson said. “Whatever level is needed to win, they rise to it.”
Unbeatable? No. But unforgettable doesn’t seem too far off.
Follow David Just on Twitter at @DavidJustDMN