Argyle High School has enjoyed a fine athletic tradition in its short history, and no sport better exemplifies the district’s commitment to excellence than basketball.
With the Argyle football team advancing to the regional quarterfinals this season, and the volleyball team going four rounds deep in the playoffs, the Eagles hoops squads have had to wait for the proverbial limelight.
But when January and February roll around and the basketball teams are right in the thick of district 9-3A competition, Argyle will very likely prove once again why its teams are always a threat to go deep into the post-season, and occasionally, rival for a state championship.
“It’s really surprising when you consider how young the school is,” Argyle head girls coach Steve Schmidt said. “That’s the most impressive thing. I started coaching in the panhandle, where some of those schools have been around for a century, and I can tell you, it usually takes some time to develop a tradition.
“Argyle has just been unbelievably blessed with good hard-working kids, very supportive parents who give their kids the opportunity to work outside the school day on developing their skills, and we’re in a good basketball area; so the competition is also a big part of the reason why our program has come a long the way it has—you either sink or swim.”
Argyle has only competed at the varsity level in basketball for the last seven years, but in that time has made two trips to the state championship game on the girls side.
In 2006, the Argyle girls basketball team defeated Wall 51-33 to win the state 2A championship, and had its star player from that squad, Ally Clardy, earn a full-paid basketball scholarship to Oklahoma State University.
Last season, Argyle lost in the 3A state championship to Robinson High School by a score of 49-33.
The Argyle girls came into the season as the No. 3 ranked team in the state according to a poll on TexasGirlsBasketball.com, and Schmidt said, while football and volleyball do get a lot of the attention at Argyle, he believes that benefits the basketball programs, as well.
“I wouldn’t say that we are overshadowed,” Schmidt said. “We just have to sit back and wait our turn. We don’t get the two-a-day workouts before school starts, and I can just imagine how great that would be if we had the time to bring our kids in and spend several hours a day getting them ready for the season. But that’s just not the way our season falls.
“I think that the winning in football and volleyball also pays off dividends in volleyball. I really think the kids just believe that they can win. They believe that if you work hard enough and play as a team, you’re going to be successful.”
The Argyle girls earned its first playoff berth in 2003, losing in the opening round, and have been at least to the regional tournament four years since then.
Schmidt has also had six of his players go on to play college basketball, including two Division I players, in Clardy, and Brooke Shepherd, who is playing at Northwestern State University in Louisiana.
Argyle senior guard Claire Pettibon averaged 10.5 points per game last season for the Lady Eagles, and said playing basketball at Argyle is very special for her and her teammates.
“I just love the camaraderie we have,” Pettibon said. “Everyone just really loves the sport and goes hard, and it is just really fun to play in that environment.”
On the boys side, Argyle came into this season as the 11th ranked team in the state according to a pre-season poll on TexasHoops.com, and wrapped up the 2008/2009 campaign with a 48-46 loss in the regional quarterfinals to Dallas Madison High School.
The boys team has enjoyed its fair share of success in a short period, as well, as it advanced three rounds in the playoffs in the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 seasons, before losing to Brownfield on both occasions.
Caden Dickerson, who went on to play basketball at the collegiate level at Western Kentucky, was named the districts’ Most Valuable Player in the 2006/2007 season and earned a spot on the all-state team.
The Argyle boys lost in the 2A state championship in the 2003/2004 season to Shallow Water by a score of 47-45 in overtime, and have been to the playoffs every year except for 2006 since then.
Argyle boys basketball coach John King could not be reached for comment on this story.
Pettibon said the tradition of the basketball program at Argyle is something that is ingrained in the players from the moment they arrive at the school and said every team feels an obligation to carry that on to the next year’s team.
“Coach Schmidt is really big on tradition,” Pettibon said. “He always gets us together in meetings with underclassmen, and we talk about our past years and how we need to carry on the winning tradition.”