HOUSTON, Tex. -- The Duncanville Pantherettes have made believers out of people across the nation and this reporter is certainly one of them. Not only do I believe they have the best player in the country in Ariel Atkins, the No. 4 player in the Full Court Fresh 50 Class of 2014, I also stand behind my ranking of Duncanville as the best team in the country.
On track to push their winning streak past the century mark on Tuesday, the foul weather that has struck the Sun Belt forced them to wait a day. But last night, Duncancille won its 100th straight game, defeating Harker Heights, 83-30. The last time the Pantherettes lost was December 2, 2012, to Plano West (58-50) and since then fewer than a dozen teams have come within double digits of the high-flying girls' team from Duncanville High.
This season, they’re attempting to seal their third-straight Texas state championship, and they have been sending messages to teams in and out of state along the way. A couple of their most impressive victories have come against Manvel and Whitney Young, both teams nationally ranked and each featuring high powered players of its own. Against in-state rival Manvel in late November, Duncanville found a way to overcome a double-digit deficit to pull out a 56-50 victory. They experienced no such troubles against Chicago's Whitney Young, jumping out to a 21-point halftime lead and cruising from there to a 60-46 victory at the Sandra Meadows Classic over New Years weekend.
Texas signees Atkins and fellow senior Tasia Foman have been the common denominators throughout this impressive run of success. Both became starters as sophomores and have made huge contributions along the way. Foman was named to the 2011-12 state all-tournament team, and Atkins received the same honor last year. Atkins, who was recently named a McDonald's All-American, put up 15 points in last night's record-setting win.
To win a third consecutive state title, Duncanville will need six more victories, and had they not lost Korie Leary to a knee injury back in November, I would have said the deal was closed. However ,anything can happen in Texas's one-and-done playoff format, in which you only have to be the best team in that particular game.
Fortunately for Duncanville, the Pantherettes have other weapons beyond Leary and their best-known tandem of Atkins and Foman. Louisiana Tech signee Tierra Davenport, for example, came up big, knocking down her first seven baskets last night to finish with 18 points. Sophomore Cierra Johnson scored 13 of her 19 points in the second half. Seniors Adrianna Davis and Keyana Smith have stepped up throughout the season often playing their best ball in games when the Duncanville streak appeared to be on the verge of ending.
Head coach Cathy Self-Morgan also credited the role of the team's fans in the Duncanville streak. “It’s nice for the fans,” Self-Morgan said. “They’ve been with us through thick and thin.”
She hit that on the nose because they have one of the most loyal and dedicated fan bases in the state, many of whom were around back when Sandra Meadows was coaching and the Pantherettes went on their first 100-game winning streak. That time around, Duncanville hit the 100-win mark on November 20, 1990. That streak ultimately ended with 134 consecutive wins, a state record that still stands today.