Legendary Canyon coach Joe Lombard, who coached against Argyle in a Class 4A Region I semifinal, said Rhyle McKinney is one of the five toughest players he’s ever game-planned for in a career that spans more than 40 years and boasts 19 state championships.
McKinney showed the rest of the state Saturday night what Lombard experienced last weekend, as the star junior thrived on the UIL’s biggest stage to record the biggest victory of her career.
McKinney scored 25 points, including 21 in the first half, to lead Argyle to a 49-41 victory over Sour Lake Hardin-Jefferson in the Class 4A state championship game at the Alamodome.
“She’s the best player down here, regardless of classification,” Argyle coach Chance Westmoreland said. “I don’t know another kid out here that’s put together the run she’s had this entire season, and especially in the playoffs. We played good teams and good coaches with good game plans, and she went out there and just played great.
“Today, shooting-wise, she was off. But she made her free throws, had a lot of big rebounds and played great defense. She moves the entire game. She’s just incredible — I wouldn’t trade her for anyone.”
McKinney was named the game’s MVP after an impressive performance that gave the Lady Eagles their fifth consecutive state championship.
Argyle became the third girls basketball team in UIL history to win five straight titles, joining the likes of Nazareth and Brock, where Westmoreland won two championships before taking over the Lady Eagles’ program in 2017.
“This one is probably one of my favorites,” McKinney said. “Our team is so close. The chemistry is amazing, the coaching staff worked so hard for us this year and we really wanted it because everyone has doubted us this year. It was pretty tough, but we were able to get it done.”
While Argyle walked away with yet another trophy, the Lady Eagles had to overcome an uncharacteristic slow start after struggling to get anything going early. Hardin-Jefferson jumped out to a 12-3 lead as Argyle went 1-for-8 from the field before McKinney started to catch fire.
The junior scored eight straight points to make it a one-point deficit for the Lady Eagles at the end of the first period, and Argyle went on to grab control while outscoring the Lady Hawks 16-11 in the second.
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SOURCE: Denton Record-Chronicle, Brady Keane