When you go to the state tournament three years in a row and win a second straight against a team you’ve had some epic battles with, it’s OK to get a little cocky.
After defending their Class 4A state crown with a 53-43 win over Waco La Vega on Saturday night in San Antonio, the Lady Eagles were understandably feeling pretty good.
A reporter in the postgame press conference asked star junior Vivian Gray, who has never not played in a state tournament in her career as a three-year starter, how it felt to defend a state title. Her answer was perfect.
“It never gets old,” Gray said into the microphone, flashing a million-dollar smile.
Then, her legendary head coach went to work after winning his eighth state championship in 10 tries and second in three years with Argyle.
“We’ve had these kids since seventh and eighth grade except for [MVP] Gabby [Standifer], and we’ve built this program from the bottom up,” Townsend said after completing his fifth year at Argyle. “They know how to play together. The one thing about these kids is, they don’t think about losing. We lost one game this year and [senior guard and lockdown defender] Olivia Gray didn’t play and Gabby looked like Chester from “Gunsmoke”, and we lost by four to [6A state semifinalist] Cibolo Steele. We would’ve beaten them with our whole team, I think.”
For you youngins’ — wait, that’s me, too — Chester had a permanent limp (I had to look it up).
Argyle built a double-digit lead in the second quarter before La Vega’s only made 3-pointer of the night at the buzzer closed the halftime deficit to seven points.
But Argyle quickly built that lead back into double digits to open the second half, and from there, it was all over but the cryin’, and Townsend had a pretty good feeling that’d be the case.
“When we get a 10- or 11-point lead on someone, we’re a hard team to beat,” Townsend said. “We’re a hard team to beat when we’re ahead. We like to get out ahead right from the start and stay ahead. As long as we’re there, we’re a pretty good team.”
Then, for the best part.
“How good a team could we be if we’re behind? I don’t know,” Townsend said. “We ain’t been behind too much this year. When we get ahead, it’s hard to beat us, obviously.
Yup, pretty much.
Gray sisters share emotional night
Vivian Gray is the 14th-ranked player in the country in her class, and like any sister, she’s a defender of her big sister. She has been of the belief that her older sister Olivia hasn’t gotten enough credit throughout her career at Argyle.
Like Vivian, Olivia has started six state tournament games, and like Vivian, Olivia won her second straight title on Saturday night. Unlike Vivian, Saturday night’s game was Olivia’s curtain call as a Lady Eagle. And it couldn’t have been sweeter.
When asked about their final night playing together, they both got emotional, but Vivian stepped up to answer first as big sis sat and stared ahead with glassy eyes.
“It was really important to help Olivia go out on top,” Vivian Gray said. “She’s worked really hard all four years. She really hasn’t gotten the credit I think she deserves. It was really important for me to get her out on top.”
Vivian Gray had 15 points to help her sister do just that, and while Olivia Gray had just two points, she played tenacious defense on La Vega star and Baylor signee Calveion Landrum, disrupting her all night to the tune of a 1-for-11 night from beyond the arc and 8-for-23 from the field. The senior guard also had three assists.
“Not many sisters get to play on varsity together like we did,” Olivia Gray said. “We’re very fortunate and blessed for that. Very few, if any, get to win together, back-to-back years. It’s just amazing.”