DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- With a championship medallion around her neck and an MVP trophy in her hands, Empress Davenport finally could relax.
The 5-foot-10 senior guard and her Duncanville teammates defeated Plano West 55-38 in the championship game to win the 61st Sandra Meadows Classic on Thursday night at Sandra Meadows Arena.
“I think we made our community proud,’’ said Davenport, a University of Texas signee. “We worked harder than in any other tournament and we came together as a team.’’
It is the 19th time the hosts have won the three-day, 32-team tournament named for their former Hall of Fame coach of 25 seasons.
Only a year had passed since Duncanville last won the tournament in 2009, but a year is a long time in a community that has long been known for girls basketball excellence.
“Our city and our school district expect it,’’ Duncanville coach Cathy Self-Morgan said. “So there is a little added pressure. But this group more than any other bought into keeping the title in Duncanville.’’
The smallest winning margin for Duncanville (22-1) in five tournament games was 14 points.
“I’m really proud of our girls,’’ Self-Morgan said. “I’m amazed they were still going strong after five games in three days.’’
Plano West (22-2) handed Duncanville its only defeat in a tournament game earlier this month. The Lady Wolves led briefly in the first quarter until a Davenport 3-pointer gave Duncanville a lead it would not relinquish.
“Duncanville was just outstanding, they outplayed us in all facets,’’ said Plano West coach Don Patterson. “We didn’t have the intensity that we had the first time we played them.’’
Kiara Perry, a 5-foot-11 junior forward named the tournament’s outstanding defensive player, led Duncanville in scoring with 17 points. Davenport chipped in 12 and sophomore Ariel Atkins had 10. The Pantherettes utilized their running game to build their big lead.
Plano West struggled to get good offensive looks against Duncanville’s clinging man-to-man defense. Paige Womack led the Lady Wolves with seven points.
“That makes us 1-1 with Plano West,’’ Self-Morgan said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we meet for a third time in the playoffs.’’
Plano West and Duncanville defeated out-of-state challengers in Thursday morning semifinals to make it to the title game.
Duncanville, led by an 18-point performance from sophomore guard Tasia Foman, took down Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas More, 67-53, and Plano West polished off Little Rock (Ark.) Hall, 74-65. Womack, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, led the Lady Wolves with 18 points.
All Tournament team: A.J. Alix, Houston Bellaire; Tyler Gilbert, Fort Bend Hightower; Ketara Chapel, Temple; Moriah Jefferson, THESA; Bryce Owens, DeSoto; Jordan Jones, DeSoto; Tyler Scaife, Little Rock Hall; Kia Wilridge and Ke’alana Veal, St. Thomas More; Kiran Lakhian, Ty Warren, Randi Reinhardt, Plano West; Tasia Foman, Morgan Bolton, Duncanville.
Outstanding Defensive Player: Kiara Perry, Duncanville.
Outstanding Offensive Player: Paige Womack, Plano West.
MVP: Empress Davenport, Duncanville.
Carroll absorbs second defeat: Southlake Carroll played the first month and a half of the season without a loss, then dropped two games in three days at the Sandra Meadows Classic. DeSoto handed the Lady Dragons a 58-51 defeat on Thursday in a Silver Division semifinal. DeSoto went on to capture the Silver Division with a 42-32 win over Temple. Senior guard Bryce Owens connected on five 3-pointers in the win over Carroll. Caitlin Barrett, a senior guard, led Carroll with 13 points.
Third-place game: Louisiana was better than Arkansas, or more precisely Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas More was better than Little Rock (Ark.) Hall in the third-place game. More, the defending Class 5A Louisiana state champion, routed Hall, 69-27.
Garland advances to consolation final: The Lady Owls strung three wins together to reach the consolation final but lost to Houston Bellaire in the trophy game, 71-58. Senior guard Gabrielle Wilkins led Garland with 20 points.
Area home school team takes fifth place: THESA won twice in a span of six hours to capture fifth place. The Riders disposed of defending champion Fort Bend Hightower, 63-45. University of Connecticut signee Moriah Jefferson led THESA with 19 points, 11 of which came in the second quarter when the Riders broke the game open.