Written by SportsDayDFW.com
2013 Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Duncanville's Ariel Atkins keeps pushing and never lets up
Pressure situations don’t rattle Duncanville guard Ariel Atkins. In fact, she seems to perform her best when there’s more at stake.
Top-ranked Duncanville led No. 3 League City Clear Springs by one point in the third quarter of their state semifinal. With the game and season on the line, Atkins took control.
She tallied 14 points, six rebounds, a block and an assist during a 24-4 run that spanned nearly 10 minutes. She finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds in a 24-point win.
One day later, Atkins recorded eight of her 13 points and four of her seven rebounds in the second half of a 59-36 victory against Cibolo Steele in the Class 5A state championship game, despite playing both quarters in foul trouble.
The Texas pledge, who led Duncanville to a 42-0 season and a second consecutive 5A state title, was an easy choice for SportsDay’s player of the year.
“You have to have the mind-set the whole game, whether you’re up by 30 or one, that you play hard the whole game,” Atkins said. “You have to keep pushing and never let up.”
Those are scary words for coaches in District 7-5A and across the state. Atkins will return for her senior season with a third state championship in her crosshairs.
“We have to keep the same mentality,” she said. “We just have to bring it.”
The junior guard turned a close Region I final against No. 5 Lubbock Coronado into a 64-45 blowout with a game-high 29 points. She also pushed Duncanville to an overtime victory against No. 13 Mansfield Timberview, scoring 23 points in the game and setting the tone in overtime with a quick basket, a steal and two more points.
When the pressure is on, so is Atkins. She averaged 20.5 points in Duncanville’s seven playoff wins.
“She’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached,” Duncanville coach Cathy Self-Morgan said. “She knows the game.”
Stats: Averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 steals, 6 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Atkins was a 55.4 percent shooter from the floor and a 49.2 percent shooter from 3-point range.