AUSTIN, Texas -- A fan called the Argyle basketball team “the new-school Hoosiers” because of the similarities in offensive pace and strategy between the Eagles and the famous movie characters.
Like the Hoosiers, Argyle finished its season on a high note. The Eagles defeated Corpus Christi Miller, 44-33, in front of 7,946 at the Frank Erwin Center to capture the Class 3A state title.
Argyle (31-8) won its first basketball championship -- and it did so by sticking with what it does best. The Eagles executed an efficient half-court offense and forced Miller to put up unwanted shots on defense. Argyle head coach John King said patience was the key to victory, as it has been throughout the season.
“If we have to make five passes or 25 passes, we have to be patient,” King said. “Our No. 1 goal on defense is to keep people out of the paint and not give up layups. We make people shoot jump shots. Teams want to get transition [games] going, and we want to shut it down.”
No team in the postseason scored more than 37 points against the Eagles. Credit that to the team’s ability to eliminate second-chance opportunities. Miller was held to eight points in the paint and eight second-chance points.
On the flip side, Argyle -- a team noticeably bigger than Miller -- finished with 16 points in the paint and nine second-chance points. Miller’s tallest starter was 6-foot-1.
“They did a great job with controlling the tempo of the game,” Miller coach Maurice Bastian said. “We were never able to get our transition game going. Argyle would take advantage of our mistakes, and with their high IQ, we couldn’t get them rattled with our defensive pressure.”
By the halfway point of the first quarter, Argyle had a 9-2 lead. The Eagles led 16-12 at halftime, as both teams struggled from the field. Argyle made only 30.4 percent (7 of 23), while Miller made 23.8 percent (5 of 21).
Shooting proved to be an Achilles’ heel, especially for Miller, in the second half. The Pirates finished the game making only 11 of 45 (24.4 percent) shots from the field, and they connected on only 3 of 21 (14.3 percent) from the 3-point line.
For Argyle, it wasn’t how many shots were taken, but when shots were made. Connor York hit all three of his 3-pointers within a five-minute span of the third and fourth quarters. His buckets helped the Eagles pull away after Miller had taken an 18-17 lead midway through the third.
“Going into that, I had not hit any [3-pointers],” York said. “They were telling me to keep shooting. I’m a shooter, and that’s my job.”
King added: “Connor has been a key part of this whole run. If you go back to the Madison game and the Lovejoy game, he’s the one who really got us going offensively. He struggled in the first half, but we all had confidence in him, and he had confidence in himself.”
Buckets by Clarke Overlander and free throws by Zach Dickerson gave Argyle a double-digit margin. The Eagles’ largest lead was 13 with 1:35 remaining.
Overlander finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists and was named the state tournament game MVP. York added 13 points, and Andrew Resch finished with three points and 13 rebounds, nine of those coming on the defensive end.
“This puts us over the hump,” Overlander said. “Cross country has won state. Girls basketball has won state. Band has won state too many times to count. This puts us over for guys basketball.
“This will be No. 1 on my list. I’ve been dreaming about this one since the first grade.”
Marquis Lewis led Miller (30-10) with 10 points.
Damon Sayles covers Midlands recruiting for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSayles.