Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Argyle, looking for second state title, has to shake any distraction from national coverage of Celina finale
Skip Townsend was a few seconds away from winning his first state tournament game as a head coach before it was stolen.
In the 1998 Class 5A state semifinals, Townsend’s Copperas Cove team lost a one-point lead with eight seconds left when an Alief Elsik player stole the ball from future WNBA player Shereka Wright and scored the basket that knocked Copperas Cove out of the playoffs.
Instead of pinning the loss on the steal, Townsend learned the lesson that enabled him to win his next 12 state tournament games and six state championships at Brock.
“It wasn’t just the dadgum steal that beat us down there,” Townsend said. “Maybe it was that they knew how to do it better than we did. I never wanted to go back down with a team and say that their team was more prepared to win the state tournament than my team was.”
Townsend leads Argyle (35-1) in its trek for a second girls basketball state title and first in 3A when the Lady Eagles face Geronimo Navarro at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. Argyle won the 2006 2A state championship over Wall and lost in the 2009 3A state final against Robinson.
Argyle’s path to the state tournament has been well-documented this week. The District 10-3A champion defeated Canton and Celina in the 3A Region II tournament.
The latter contest against Argyle’s District 10-3A rival was a 51-50 double-overtime victory that has become a national story because of the final seconds of the game. A whistle was blown as Celina’s Kynese Davis was shooting a contested 3-point attempt before the final buzzer. The officials ran off the court as Davis stepped to the line for three free throws that were not coming.
After practice earlier this week, Townsend told his players they belonged in this weekend’s tournament.
“We’ve talked about it,” Argyle junior Delaney Sain said. “It really pumps us up, because some people say we don’t deserve it because the refs cheated Celina, but honestly, I know we deserve it. Our team worked so hard, and that just makes me want to go out there and prove it.”
Navarro coach Darrell Harborth said his team will need to rebound well and keep Sain and freshman Vivian Gray from getting good shots close to the basket.
“We’re not the biggest team in the world,” Harborth said. “We’re pretty good with our team defense. But that definitely concerns me if they’re able to get it to their big kids, and their big kids are able to get good looks. That could definitely make it hard for us.”
Townsend said what Navarro lacks in height, it makes up for in strength and toughness, and his team will have to work for its chances to score. Argyle will have to contend with Navarro’s leading scorer, junior Shannon Thompson, who is averaging nearly 18 points per game.
Townsend said his team will be rusty after four days of inactivity, and a good start will be vital to advancing to the 3A title game.
The Argyle coach said if his team wants to play in the final game of the season, the Lady Eagles need to find courage as they step into the Frank Erwin Center. After 41 years in coaching and six state titles, Townsend knows exactly what his team should expect in Austin.
“We have to go out there and forget we’re playing in the state’s final four, and we gotta go out there and play as a team,” Townsend said. “We gotta go out there and play hard, and we gotta remember what we’re doing and what we’re there for.”
CLASS 3A SEMIFINAL
Argyle vs. Geronimo Navarro
1:30 p.m. Thursday at Frank Erwin Center in Austin
District: 10-3A (first) Record: (35-1)
Coach: Skip Townsend
State titles: 1 (2A in 2006)
Previous appearances (last): 2 (2009)
Playoff victories: 42-22 over Sanger, 66-36 over Roosevelt, 54-30 over Decatur, 52-26 over Canton, 51-50 in double overtime over Celina.
Top players: Vivian Gray, 6-0, G, Fr.; Delaney Sain, 5-11, C, Jr.; Jesse Sheridan, 5-7, G, Jr.
Notable: Gray scored a team-high 17 points and made the game-winning free throw with 4.8 seconds left in the second overtime in Saturday’s win over Celina in the regional final. She is averaging 13.2 points and 6.6 rebounds and is shooting 52.9 percent from the field. Gray and six other freshmen on the Argyle roster never lost a middle school game, and their only loss this season was 47-41 to Round Rock Cedar Ridge, which was a 5A regional semifinalist. Sain averages 13.4 points and 6.7 rebounds and shoots 54.5 percent from the floor, and Sheridan leads the team in assists (4.7 per game) and made 3-pointers (23).
District: 27-3A (second) Record: 33-7
Coach: Darrell Harborth
State titles: None
Previous appearances: 1 (1955)
Playoff victories: 68-37 over Somerset, 46-44 over Yoakum, 72-50 over El Campo, 38-35 over Corpus Christi West Oso, 55-44 in overtime over Boerne.
Top players: Shannon Thompson, 5-8, F, Jr.; Summer Sahd, 5-7, G, Jr.; Andrea Besa, 5-4, G, Sr.
Notable: Thompson has averaged 15.8 points in the playoffs, and she scored 21 in the regional final to lead District 27-3A runner-up Navarro past 27-3A champion Boerne. Besa sent the game into overtime with a layup in the final seconds of regulation. Sahd scored 15 in the regional final and has averaged 13.4 points in the postseason. Navarro wasn’t ranked in the final 3A state Top 25, but it has playoff wins over three teams that were No. 7 Yoakum, No. 8 Corpus Christi West Oso and No. 23 Boerne.
Ben Baby, Greg Riddle