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Argyle Lady Eagles claim fifth straight state basketball title

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(Photo by Campbell Wilmot)

By Brady Keane

Rhyle McKinney scored 25 points, including 21 in the first half, to lead Argyle to a 49-41 win over Hardin-Jefferson in the Class 4A state championship game Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

McKinney, who was named the game’s MVP for her heroic performance, did everything she needed to in order to lead the Lady Eagles to their fifth consecutive state title.

“I’m very emotional,” McKinney said. “We’ve worked really hard and it was just crazy. I couldn’t believe we were here this weekend, and we beat some of the top teams – it was pretty tough. I’ve been exhausted, the team has been exhausted, but we couldn’t give up and worked hard to finish it. It’s pretty special.”

After Argyle fell behind 12-3 in the first quarter, McKinney scored eight straight points to pull the Lady Eagles back within just one. The rest of the team settled down from there as Argyle took its first lead of the night on a 3-pointer by Bailey Timmons less than a minute into the second, and the Lady Eagles never turned back.

“I realized we were struggling and missing a bunch of shots in the beginning of the game,” McKinney said. “Our team was never super down on itself. We knew we would come back, and I knew I needed to step up. When someone starts hitting shots the rest of the team starts feeling more comfortable with the defense.”

(Photo by Campbell Wilmot)

Argyle led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter before Hardin-Jefferson staged a comeback, and a 3-pointer by Rylee Wirth made it a four-point game. But McKinney again stepped up and knocked down three free throws in the final 30 seconds of the third, setting the tone for another crucial run early in the fourth.

Brooklyn Carl and Bailey Timmons combined to score seven straight points in the first two minutes of the fourth, giving the Lady Eagles plenty of breathing room with a 14-point lead.

Carl finished with 10 points and five rebounds while Timmons had nine points and six rebounds, providing valuable scoring in support of McKinney’s big night. Freshman Ashlon Jackson had 14 points for Hardin-Jefferson and Tunisha Strong had 10, but the Lady Hawks were never able to fully claw their way back within striking distance in the final minutes.

Argyle became just the third team in UIL history to win five straight state championships, joining Nazareth and Brock in rare company. For Westmoreland, the victory marked his second state title with the Lady Eagles and fourth overall as a head coach.

“It’s incredible,” Westmoreland said. “I’m just so happy with this group of girls. They’ve been a pleasure to coach, they’ve worked hard in practice, they executed our game plans and they played their hearts out. We didn’t play a perfect game tonight, but I told them before the game that if they’d play hard for four quarters we’d have a great chance to win. They did that.

“This has been one of the greatest teams I’ve gotten to coach, and it’s been one of the most enjoyable I’ve gotten to coach in my career.”

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