Over the last seven years, the Argyle girls basketball program has become synonymous with excellence.
The Lady Eagles have played for a state title every season since 2014, winning five consecutive championships from 2015-2019. Argyle nearly made it six in a row last year, but lost a heartbreaker to Fairfield in overtime 40-39, snapping the Lady Eagles' 41-game playoff winning streak.
That loss marked the end of several key players' high school careers, most notably two-time Denton Record-Chronicle All-Area MVP Rhyle McKinney. With so many fresh faces and just two players with varsity experience this season, Argyle was struggling and found itself searching for answers just six weeks ago.
As Argyle coach Chance Westmoreland put it, the Lady Eagles were "embarrassed" on their home court, losing to Decatur 63-46 on Jan. 15.
The defeat marked a turning point in Argyle's season.
"We gave up 63 points here," Westmoreland recalled. "And it's been a long time since we've given up 63 points. From that point forward, I said, 'We're not going to do anything the rest of district or in the playoffs unless we play defense.'"
Westmoreland's message resonated with his team.
Argyle has not surrendered more than 41 points since its loss to Decatur over a month ago, and opponents are averaging just 27.7 points against the Lady Eagles since.
As Argyle (18-9) prepares to take on state-ranked Bridgeport in the Class 4A Region I quarterfinal on Wednesday night, the Lady Eagles know they will have to lean on their rejuvenated defense if they hope to keep their playoff run alive. Tip-off for the matchup is set for 6 p.m. at Springtown High School.
"We're going to be a heavy, heavy underdog," Westmoreland said. "Everybody pretty much thinks in our region the two [best] teams are Bridgeport and Canyon. The good thing is, we've earned an opportunity to play in this game Wednesday. We get 32 minutes to see if we can be in that conversation, or at least give them a decent game."
The Sissies have won both meetings against Argyle this season after losing to the Lady Eagles in the region final last year. Bridgeport took down Argyle 47-31 on Jan. 11 and then won a low-scoring affair 23-19 on Jan. 22.
Argyle beat Bridgeport 42-38 in the region final last season behind a game-high 32 points from McKinney, who is now playing at SMU.
The Sissies returned several players from last year’s squad. including TWU commit Ashley Ingram and TCU volleyball commit Zoe Hall.
"Obviously, they're going to be the favorite," Westmoreland said. "And they should be. When you go to the regional finals and return seven of eight, you should be the favorite to win the region. But I think our kids are confident."
Argyle is led offensively by its lone senior Bailey Timmons, who is averaging 16.5 points per game. Sophomore Madi Lumsden is second on the team in scoring averaging 12.7 points per game.
Last week, Lumsden poured in a game-high 25 points to lead the Lady Eagles to an area-round win over Graham. Samantha Bacon leads Argyle in rebounding with 8.2 rebounds per game.
For Argyle to play spoiler and keep its streak of seven straight state title game appearances alive, Westmoreland knows the Lady Eagles will need to get contributions from up and down their lineup.
But Westmoreland believes his team is up for the challenge.
"I know Bridgeport is going to be ready to play. I know that their goal is to knock us out of the playoffs again. And it should be," Westmoreland said. "All the pressure is on them. They returned so many kids. You look across the board on paper, and they have every advantage. Luckily, the game is not played on paper — and we have a chance to play for 32 minutes with them."