Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Duncanville's current dynasty making a case for the greatest Dallas-area girls hoops team ever
AUSTIN - As Duncanville readies itself for a run at a third consecutive state title this weekend, many fans across the area will wonder:
Is this the best girls basketball dynasty North Texas has ever seen?
It's not hard to build a case for Duncanville.
Coach Cathy Self-Morgan and the Pantherettes are riding a 104-game winning streak, which would be unheard-of if not for the Sandra Meadows-coached Duncanville teams of 1987-1991, which won a state-record 134 games in a row.
Duncanville (34-0) is averaging a 38-point margin of victory this postseason. The Pantherettes put on a show at the Region I tournament with 40-point wins over a pair of two-loss teams in Arlington Bowie and Hurst L.D. Bell.
San Antonio Wagner will get the next shot at the Pantherettes in a Class 5A semifinal at 3 p.m. Friday in Austin.
But can anyone beat this Duncanville team?
"I just don't see it," South Grand Prairie coach Samantha Morrow said. "They're the best team in the state, that's my opinion."
Heart of the team
Morrow, whose team fell to Duncanville in a Region I quarterfinal, 70-34, has a good idea of what a dynasty looks like.
Morrow coached Mansfield to four consecutive Class 5A state titles from 1999-2002. Those teams were led by point guard Erin Grant, who went on to become the all-time assists leader at Texas Tech.
Grant was the difference-maker the player who made everything possible.
“You have one of those players that lift you up and make everyone around them better,” Morrow said. “[For Duncanville], Ariel Atkins is that player.”
Atkins, a Texas signee, has started on all three Duncanville teams during the current winning streak. Few would question her claim as the nation’s best high school guard.
She's explosive, athletic, defensive-minded and consistent. Atkins is the type of player who can hit a fadeaway jumper, force a turnover on the inbounds pass and then take the ball to the basket with a finger-roll finish.
Atkins doesn't win games all by herself, though. Neither did Grant.
The supporting cast around Atkins includes another Texas signee in Tasia Foman, a fleet-footed, defensive wizard at guard. Then there's Louisiana Tech signee Tiara Davenport, who chips in more than 12 points and six rebounds per game, and 6-4 sophomore forward Ciera Johnson, who could lead Duncanville to even more championships.
You can find similarly gifted supporting casts on other great North Texas dynasties.
Lincoln won titles in 1999, 2004 and 2008. It was a state finalist in 2001, 2002 and 2003. The 2001 team included five players who stood at least 6-0.
“Lincoln’s Forest” featured 6-3 forward Tiffany Jackson, Teleah Hayes, Carla Robertson, Tameka Smith and Brittani Green.
Sophomore guard Andrea Riley took the reins in 2004, getting the program over the hump after three straight runner-up finishes. Riley went on to become Oklahoma State's all-time leading scorer.
Committed to winning
“Winning is not just the result of a game,” former Lincoln coach Michael Ensley said. “It’s a combination of a number of parties working together, including administration, an energetic coaching staff, parents and the players themselves.”
Squads from Rockwall, Mansfield Summit, Irving MacArthur and Fort Worth Dunbar could all make a case as being among the best teams in North Texas, too.
Rockwall became just the third team to go 40-0 and win a state title in 2007. Summit figured out how to stop Houston Nimitz and star Brittney Griner in the 2009 championship. Dunbar won titles in 2005 and 2007 behind Brooklyn Pope, who later helped lead Baylor to its 2012 national championship.
“These teams have an expectation to win,” former Rockwall coach Jill McDill said. “They set out there thinking, ‘We’re expecting to win.’ That was what we expected, and you can see that in [Duncanville].”
Gary Blair's South Oak Cliff teams of the late 1970s overshadow many of those dynasties.
In fact, South Oak Cliff became the first great North Texas dynasty, winning championships in 1977, 1978 and 1980. Blair, who went on to win a national championship at Texas A&M, modeled much of his approach after what Meadows was doing down the road at Duncanville.
Model for greatness
“Duncanville has meant more to high school women’s basketball than any other program in the state of Texas,” Blair said this week. “There have been a lot of great programs Victoria, South Oak Cliff, Waco Midway but nobody has stood the test of time like Duncanville.”
But determining this Duncanville team’s place among the area’s great dynasties is a futile task.
“These are different eras,” Blair said. “Determining who is best is great for selling books and newspapers, but let’s remember and celebrate each era.”
Still, Blair said, he “would love to have my ’78 or ’80 teams go against Duncanville’s great teams.”
South Oak Cliff, it seems safe to say, was the best team of its era.
And there's little doubt this Duncanville team is the best of its own era.
“Look at their record,” Ensley said. “How can you argue with that?”
The best of North Texas
A look at the most dominant women's basketball programs the Dallas area has ever produced.
Championships: 8 (1976, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1997, 2003, 2012, 2013)
Star recruits: Cinietra Henderson (Texas), Cobi Kennedy (Texas), Tamika Catchings (Tennessee), Tiffany Jackson (Texas), Empress Davenport (Texas), Kiara Perry (SMU) Ariel Atkins (Texas).
Notable: Duncanville won three championships in a row from 1988-1990 and can accomplish that feat again this weekend. Coach Sandra Meadows brought the school four championships, Cathy Self-Morgan has won three, and Sara Hackerott won in 1997 on the Tamika Catchings-led undefeated squad.
Fort Worth Dunbar
Championships: 2 (2005, 2007)
Star recruits: Brooklyn Pope (Baylor), Jerin Smith (Penn).
Notable: Pope was a McDonald's All-American who helped lead Baylor to the 2012 national championship.
Championships: 1 (2011)
Star recruits: Alexis Jones (Duke), Odyssey Sims (Baylor)
Notable: Both Jones and Sims were named SportsDay's newcomer of the year and, later, player of the year. Sims graduated before MacArthur's 2011 state championship, but she helped the program to a regional semifinal in 2009 and a regional final in 2010.
Championships: 3 (1999, 2004, 2008)
Star recruits: Andrea Riley (Oklahoma State), Dominic Seals (Texas Tech), Kimetria Hayden (Baylor), Chynna Brown (Texas Tech).
Notable: Defense defined Lincoln's greatest basketball teams. "Our motto was if we could guard you, we could beat you," former Lincoln coach Michael Ensley said. "That's what we believed in, and it gave us all the confidence we needed."
Championships: 4 (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002)
Star recruits: Erin Grant (Texas Tech), Kaira White (Texas), Brie Madden (Kansas State).
Notable: Mansfield ended Duncanville's 201-game district winning streak in 1999. It became the first -- and remains the only -- 5A school to win four consecutive championships.
Championships: 2 (2009, 2012)
Star recruits: Amy Moody (Oral Roberts), Starr Crawford (TCU), Taylor Hooker (Tulsa), Ashley Eli (North Carolina State).
Notable: Without a player taller than 6-2, Summit downed Houston Nimitz and 6-8 star Brittney Griner in the 2009 title game. Griner scored 44 points and dunked in the semifinals, but she was held to 22 points in the championship.
Championships: 1 (2007)
Star recruits: Haley Day (SMU), Kiara Slaton (Tulane)
Notable: Rockwall reached the state finals in 2006, and falling just short of a title was its primary motivation during its championship season. "The goal wasn't to be undefeated," former Rockwall coach Jill McDill said of the 40-0 title season. "It was just to win." Both Rockwall and Cy-Fair were 39-0 when they met in the championship.
South Oak Cliff
Championships: 4 (1977, 1978, 1980, 1985)
Star recruits: Vickie Green (Oklahoma), Barbara Brown (Stephen F. Austin), Jackie Valentine (Baylor), Pam Green (Missouri), Debra Rodman (Louisiana Tech), Kim Rodman (Stephen F. Austin), Ramona Dozier (LSU), Fran Harris (South Oak Cliff).
Notable: South Oak Cliff became the first North Texas team to win back-to-back championships. The program was also a state runner-up in 1979 and 1982.
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