Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Tested, not bested - Duncanville girls use 17-0 run to turn close game into rout, 64-40
Locked in a tight battle, Pantherettes take off with 17-0 run
AUSTIN — When a 3-pointer cut Duncanville’s lead to one point early in the second half Friday, the fans of League City Clear Springs erupted in cheers at the Frank Erwin Center.
Then, as has often been the case during Duncanville’s dominant run over the last two seasons, the Pantherettes erupted. The defending champions exploded with blocks, steals, rebounds and confidence as they turned a tight Class 5A state semifinal into a 64-40 rout.
“We’re always talking defense,” said Duncanville coach Cathy Self-Morgan, whose team will play for the 5A title Saturday at 8:30 p.m. “That’s the topic at school, at home, at lunch. Wherever we go, we talk defense.”
Defense was the fuel as Duncanville (41-0), which has won 69 consecutive games, dusted Clear Springs with a 17-0 run to end the third quarter. Clear Springs (38-3) had cut the lead to 27-26 with 6:37 left in the third, but then Duncanville took off like it was on a drag strip.
“Duncanville’s a great team, and that’s just not a secret,” said Clear Springs coach Pamela Crawford. “Their athleticism really affected us, and they’re a powerhouse. We did the best we could with what we had.”
What Clear Springs had was a talented team that had won 17 straight games and was No. 3 in the final regular-season 5A state rankings. But Duncanville was bigger, quicker and more skilled, and when the Pantherettes found themselves in a rare tight game in the second half, they were focused.
“No matter if you’re up by 30 or one or if it’s tied, you have to play hard the entire game,” said junior guard Ariel Atkins, who scored 29 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. “You just keep pushing and never let up.”
“We will never be complacent,” added junior guard Tasia Foman. “Winning it last year, we want that feeling again.”
Foman ignited Duncanville’s back-breaking run by chasing down a loose ball and throwing to Kiara Perry for a layup that gave the Pantherettes a 29-26 lead with 6:10 left in the third.
Over the next two minutes, Atkins nailed a 3-pointer and two midrange jumpers, and Antoina Robinson scored off an offensive rebound to push the lead to 38-26.
Duncanville’s lead kept expanding as its defense made steals and forced difficult shots from the perimeter or altered them inside. The Pantherettes blocked seven shots in the third quarter, led by Robinson, a 6-2 senior center, who had seven of Duncanville’s 11 blocks in the game.
Duncanville also crashed the offensive boards against outsized Clear Springs, and won the rebounding battle by a whopping 46-22. Perry had 13 rebounds to go with her 11 points.
As usual, the game ended as a rout. And as usual, it was a team effort for the Pantherettes, who haven’t lost since Dec. 3, 2011.
“They cover for each other,” Self-Morgan said. “If somebody misses a shot, the other person is there to tap it in. If someone misses the block and flies [by], another person is there to recover and pick up her man. That’s what they’ve done all year.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon