AUSTIN — Compared with the last time Argyle’s girls basketball team played, Thursday afternoon’s Class 3A state semifinal was a mundane outing for the Lady Eagles.
There were no fleeing officials, no late-game drama, no video clips viewed by Internet users in England and Australia.
Argyle left no doubt Thursday that it is one of the best 3A teams. Argyle cruised to a 64-37 victory over Geronimo Navarro at Texas’ Frank Erwin Center and advanced to the team’s third state title game.
In Argyle’s first state tournament appearance since 2009, the Lady Eagles jumped out to a quick lead and made sure the victory was a decisive one, unlike the team’s controversial one-point, double-overtime victory over Celina in the regional final.
“I was impressed with the way we were handling the first game we ever played down here,” Argyle coach Skip Townsend said. “Just getting into our offense and getting into our game.”
Argyle (36-1) advances to face Waco La Vega in the 3A state championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center. La Vega (34-0) maintained its spotless record with a 66-53 win over Abilene Wylie.
The Lady Eagles have about as many players who played in junior high last season as players who bowed out of last year’s playoffs in the regional quarterfinals. But like it has all postseason, Argyle’s youth and defense carried the Lady Eagles into the state title game.
Argyle freshman Vivian Gray led all scorers with 19 points. Junior center Delaney Sain added 15 points and five rebounds, while junior guard Jesse Sheridan finished with 13 points, five assists and three steals.
Earlier in the week, Townsend stressed the importance of shaking early nerves and starting the game well. Townsend didn’t have to worry about that.
Argyle quickly scored six straight points to start the game and seemed to foreshadow what was going to happen for the next 3 1/2 quarters. But Navarro (33-8) responded with a quick 9-0 run behind a full-court press that flustered the Lady Eagles.
It took Argyle a few turnovers to figure out how to get past Navarro’s press and take the lead for good. Argyle ripped off a 17-2 run across the first and second quarters to cement its spot in Saturday’s final.
For the second straight game, Argyle jumped out to a quick lead before quickly surrendering its advantage. For the second straight game, Argyle erased a quick deficit, and this time the Lady Eagles were able to bury their opponent’s season well before the final buzzer.
“I thought when we knew we needed to get a lead and when we came into the second half we really had to bury them and not let them get close enough,” Sain said.
Navarro coach Darrell Harborth had expressed concerns about keeping Argyle off the boards and out of the heart of the paint.
The Lady Eagles scored 36 points in the paint and 14 on second-chance opportunities.
“Rebounding was a concern for us,” Harborth said. “They’re bigger than us and they’re big and athletic. Those two combinations make it hard for us with our size. That’s how they got their lead.
Thursday’s wins set up a matchup between two of the state’s top-ranked teams. La Vega finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in 3A by Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. Argyle was second.
In its first state tournament appearance, La Vega will be trying to become the 19th Texas team to finish the year with a perfect record, while Argyle will try to bring home its second girls basketball title and first in Class 3A.
After last week’s disputed finish against Celina, Gray said Argyle wanted to come out and prove to the world that it belonged in Austin. With another win, the Lady Eagles would show that they are the best in 3A.
“We know we should be here and it’s our time,” Gray said. “We just really wanted to show them that we deserve it.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.
Argyle 64, Geronimo Navarro 37
GERONIMO NAVARRO (33-8) – Thompson 5-8 3-3 13, Sahd 5-11 7-11 18, Besa 1-6 0-0 2, Hensley 2-3 0-0 4, Marmolejo 0-0 0-0 0, Burrus 0-0 0-0 0, Wezemann 0-0 0-0 0, Hancock 0-0 0-0 0, Rodriguez 0-0 0-0 0, Leal 0-4 0-0 0, Law 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 13-34 10-14 37.
ARGYLE (36-1) – Ralston 3-3 1-1 7, O. Gray 2-3 3-5 7, V. Gray 6-10 7-8 19, Sain 7-16 1-1 15, Sheridan 3-6 7-9 13, Pierce 0-1 1-2 1, Hamilton 0-0 0-0 0, Haynes 0-0 0-0, Betzhold 0-0 1-2 1, Eschle 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 21-39 22-30 64.
Halftime – ARGYLE, 36-20. Three-point field goals – Navarro 1-7 (Sahd 1-5, Besa 0-2). Argyle 0-1 (V. Gray 0-1). Fouled out – Thompson. Rebounds – Argyle 29 (O. Gray 5), Navarro 17 (Sahd 5). Assists – Argyle 6 (Sheridan 5), Navarro 5 (Thompson 3). Total fouls – Navarro 22, Argyle 12. A — 2,703.