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Duncanville thumps South Grand Prairie for 12th Texas (UIL) state girls basketball title: 'The legacy never died'

Mariah Clayton fuels Panthers to lopsided 2024 championship win
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SAN ANTONIO, Texas - For the past six years, either Duncanville or DeSoto has found a way to the Class 6A Texas high school girls basketball state championship game.

For the past three years, the Pantherettes had to watch as the rival DeSoto were in the last game of the season. This time around, Duncanville returned to the top.

After being ineligible for the postseason last year due to UIL rules violations, Duncanville returned to the summit, beating South Grand Prairie 59-41 on Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. State title No. 12 is the first since 2020.

“The legacy never died,” Duncanville coach Neiman Ford said. “We walk into the gym and we look at 11 banners every day and we were looking for No. 12 and we got it. We got an opportunity to do what we needed to do. The girls performed at a high level.”

Last year, Ford was the boys' interim head basketball coach at Duncanville and led the team to a 29-1 record and no. 3 nationally ranking. However, like the girls, the boys were ineligible for the postseason.

Duncanville’s return to the top was keyed by Mariah Clayton, the MVP.

She had 18 points in a semifinal win against Humble Summer Creek on Friday and followed up with 19 points and 9 rebounds in the finals against the Warriors (34-4).

Cincinnati signee Chloe Mann added 13 for Duncanville, which was 35-4 this year and won its last 12.

The only losses to in-state foes this year came against DeSoto and Summer Creek — both wins the Pantherettes avenged during the title run in the postseason.

“At the beginning of the season when no one believed in us but we believed in ourselves,” Mann said. “We stayed true to everybody around us, the community and the school and everybody that stuck here with us. We are grateful for everyone."

South Grand Prairie, which had a 17-game winning streak, jumped out to an early lead and held an 18-17 lead at the break.

Clayton hit a pair of 3s in the third quarter and late in the quarter, her layup gave Duncanville a 25-24 lead. The Pantherettes never trailed from there and a 3-pointer by Laila Coleman was the start of an 8-0 run to close the third quarter.

Duncanville held an 18-9 advantage and took a 35-27 lead into the final stanza. Mann and junior Kaylinn Kemp scored early in the fourth to expand the run to 12-0. Mann’s 3-pointer made it 40-27 with less than 7 minutes to play.

South Grand Prairie never dwindled the deficit to single digits after that surge. Duncanville didn't have a basket in the final 5:39 as South Grand Prairie was fouling. The Pantherettes hit 24 of 37 attempts from the charity stripe. In the fourth, Duncanville hit 15 of 22 free throws.

Taylor Barnes scored 14 and Taliyah Parker chipped in with 10 for the Warriors in the loss.

-- Cody Thorn | @sblivetx