CELINA — Fans in bright orange, crammed together without any space between them in Celina’s gymnasium, yelled as the Argyle Lady Eagles saw a 13-point third-quarter lead trimmed to six with three minutes to play.
Argyle, ranked second by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, came out of the timeout and worked a minute off the clock before Delaney Sain scored in the paint. The Lady Eagles (30-1, 8-0 District 10-3A) regained composure and cruised to clinch the District 10-3A title with a 50-39 win at second-place Celina (24-6, 6-2).
“That was a big moment in the game,” Argyle coach Skip Townsend said. “I’ve seen a lot of Celina scores where they’re down early and they come back and win it. That’s what they’re good at.
“If you don’t have an answer for it, you’re in trouble. Luckily we did that tonight.”
Following Sain’s bucket to take a 45-37 lead, Celina junior K.J. Stastny, who finished tied with Sarah Cantu as the team’s leading scorer with 15 points apiece, fouled out with less than two minutes to go, and Argyle tacked on another bucket and three free throws to seal the win.
Playing in the rowdy, playoff-like atmosphere hardly seemed to bother Sain. The Lady Eagles’ junior post player found open spots in Celina’s zone defense most of the night to score a game-high 18 points.
“We had a game plan to eat the middle, and we came prepared,” said Sain, who added eight rebounds and a steal. “We were mainly looking for the flash up the middle of the lane and opposite side. And it was there.”
Argyle dissected Celina’s zone defense early and often. After beating the full-court press the Bobcats applied for most of the game, the Lady Eagles moved the ball around to find high-flashing posts and backside cutters for easy buckets.
Freshman Vivian Gray, who finished with eight points, sparked the Lady Eagles by scoring the first six points of the game. Sain added six more in the quarter to give Argyle an 18-6 lead after one period.
Pulling down 22 rebounds to just seven by Celina in the opening half helped Argyle jump out to a 29-19 lead by halftime.
Argyle finished the game with a 28-16 advantage on the glass, but it turned the ball over 13 times to six Celina’s six. The Lady Eagles made 14 of their 44 shots from the field, while Celina went 11-for-44.
The large lead dwindled as Argyle turned the ball over nine times and Stastny and Cantu combined for 15 points after the break. Celina’s Kynese Davis, who finished with five points and eight rebounds, provided a spark for the Bobcats after Stastny fouled out.
Despite the late lapse, Sain was proud to claim a district title.
“It’s so great,” she said. “I’m so happy and I knew we could do it.”
Junior Jesse Sheridan finished with 12 points, three assists and three rebounds, while fellow Lady Eagles Jocelyn Pierce and Madison Ralston each added four points and Olivia Gray chipped in with three.
Starting three freshmen continues to build depth for a young Argyle squad entering the playoffs.
“We’re playing with a lot of young kids,” Townsend said. “We started three freshmen tonight in a big game — just threw them in the pressure cooker. It’ll do us good to give them that experience.”
Argyle will face the fourth-place team from District 9-3A, most likely Sanger, in the bi-district round of the playoffs, but has not confirmed a time, date or location for the game.
Argyle 81, Celina 44
Tuesday was a tale of two halves for the Argyle Eagles.
After turning the ball over seven times and giving up three long balls, Argyle put up a 44-point second-half advantage to take a commanding win.
“I thought our offense was good the entire night,” Argyle coach John King said. “Unfortunately our defense didn’t have the same intensity that it usually does in the first [half], but we turned it around in the second.”
The Eagles (20-6, 5-2) outscored Celina (5-13, 1-5) 31-4 in the third quarter and 22-5 in the final stanza to overcome the Bobcats’ hot start.
Celina’s Jeff Sims led all scorers with 20 points, while Argyle’s Jonathan Davis scored 16 points and J.C. Chalk scored added 14 points.
Argyle will play again Tuesday against Carrollton Ranchview to decide second place and third place in the district.
Girls: Argyle 50, Celina 39
Argyle (30-1, 8-0) — Delaney Sain 18, Jesse Sheridan 12, Vivian Gray 8, Jocelyn Pierce 4, Madison Ralston 4, Olivia Gray 3.
Celina (24-6, 6-2) — Sarah Cantu 15, K.J. Stastny 15, Kinzie Juergens 5, Callie Wells 2, McKale Grant 2.
Boys: Argyle 81, Celina 44
Argyle (20-6, 5-2) — Jonathan Davis 16, J.C. Chalk 14, Joseph Clayton 12, Shayne Priddy 9, Reed Davis 6, Chase Kammerer 6, Colton Wilkes 5, Hunter Shoemake 4, Kade Barnett 4, Jared Cole 2.
Celina (5-13, 1-5) — Jeff Sims 20, Riley Nebeker 9, Caleb Knowles 5, Cooper Harris 4, John Mendoza 2, Jacob Maday 2.