With a berth in the 4A state tournament on the line, the Decatur Lady Eagles faced a familiar foe Saturday — District 7-4A rival and top-ranked Argyle.
Decatur kept pace with its nemesis in the first half, limiting Argyle to just a 3-point lead at halftime. But the Lady Eagles could not hold on late.
Argyle used a 27-18 second-half run to claim the Region I title, 52-40, at Lubbock Christian University’s Rip Griffin Center.
“I thought we fought well against Argyle and did good things,” Decatur coach Lindsay Griffin said. “But when a team like that gets space, it’s hard to close those gaps. They’ve got a lot of tradition, and a lot of their girls have grown up watching previous teams win state championships. They know what it takes. Beating a team like that at this level is tough.
“Every group we have puts in so much work. We start in May, and we put in so much time together. The beautiful thing about this profession is that you always think there’s not a group that can top the last one, but then the next one comes in and steals your heart. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
Decatur fell behind quickly on a 9-2 run, as Argyle’s Gabby Campbell started the game hot with seven points, forcing Griffin to stop play.
Out of the timeout, the Lady Eagles regrouped and cut Argyle’s lead to 3 with an 8-4 drive.
Decatur and Argyle matched point-for-point in the second with 12 each, allowing Argyle to take a 25-22 lead into the locker room.
As play resumed, Argyle’s defense flummoxed Decatur, while their offense heated up. Argyle surrendered only two points in the third frame and added eight to their side of the scoreboard to lead Decatur 33-24.
In the final frame, Decatur could not make up the deficit. Argyle finished on a 19-16 run to claim the win and the state-qualifying bid.
Decatur’s season ended at 33-6.
“We shot well in the first half, especially from 3-point range. But Argyle started to clamp down on that,” Griffin said. “They’re just such a very good team. They’re well-coached, have a deep bench and a lot of weapons, and they’re good defenders. When you have all that, you’re a tough team to beat.”
Senior Abbie Barr, a Southeastern Oklahoma State University signee, led the Lady Eagles with 16 points and a pair of assists, and was named as Decatur’s representative to the 4A Region I all-tournament team.
“I’d rather have the win, but it’s great to be on the all-tournament team,” Barr said. “Our region is so competitive. Getting this honor is very exciting.
“I love this team with all of my heart. There’s no one else I’d rather have this experience with. Although we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, it’s been a fun season.”
Grace Lowery, a four-year member of the Lady Eagles, finished her high school career with nine points against Argyle. Senior Hailey Lavelle tallied six.
“Making it to the regional tournament this year was definitely special and fun,” Lowery said. “I’m really glad we made it here with this team. It’s a letdown, but I’m proud of how far we went.
“It’s just been a lot of hard work and dedication over the past four years. I think what will help me in college will be the experience of playing these last couple of games that were very close.
The coach expects the Lady Eagles to field a youthful roster next season.
“We’ve got a lot of talent graduating this year, so we’re going to be young and very inexperienced next season,” Griffin said. “we’ll take a break from basketball for three weeks, then we’ll get back at it and look at the pieces we’ll have for next year. The process starts all over again in April.”