Last year was expected to be the Irving MacArthur girls basketball team’s best chance to win a state title.
The Lady Cardinals had a team leader many believed was the best player in the area, state and even nation, Odyssey Sims. With Sims leading the way in her senior season, MacArthur had a date cutting down the net at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.
However, it all changed in the blink of an eye.
In MacArthur’s 2010 regional final game, Sims went down with a torn ACL in the first 13 seconds of the game. Unable to deal with the loss of their leader, the Lady Cardinals lost to Cedar Hill and fell short of reaching Austin.
“We felt we got a little cheated,” MacArthur head coach Suzie Oelschlegel said. “I don’t want to say the word cheated, but we felt like last year it should have happened.”
Sims has moved on to star at Baylor, but five seniors returned from last year's team and are determined to complete their championship mission. Using that game as motivation, he Lady Cardinals have made their way to the state tournament.
“All the kids that game back from that same group, they decided from that point on they were going this year,” Oelschlegel said. “They played together all spring and summer and we fought hard and worked hard all season, and here we are.”
This year’s edition features a new leader, junior Alexis Jones, who averages 21.1 points. Jones and MacArthur marched through the 5A bracket, beating Plano West and North Crowley, teams that had been ranked on the final ESPN Dallas 5A top 10. They punched their ticket to state by taking down Midland in the regional final in Fort Worth last Saturday.
“The excitement is on and it all started when every girl cut down a piece of that net, and it just got the juices flowing,” Oelschlegel said. “Everyone is just high stepping it around here, and it’s an exciting time.”
At 3:30 p.m. Friday, the excitement hits the court, as MacArthur (35-2) faces San Antonio Wagner (32-6) in the 5A state semifinals.
The team’s slogan for this season has been, “We in dat thing,” meaning they are in every game to win it. Now, as they travel down I-35 at the end of this week, they can confidently say that they are most certainly “in dat thing.”
MacArthur isn't the only area team with a chance to bring back a state championship.
Dallas Lincoln (28-10) eyes the Class 4A title, beginning with its semifinal game at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against Austin LBJ (27-4).
Lucas Lovejoy (28-10) can bring home a title in 3A, as it faces Fairfield (27-10) on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in the semifinals.
All girls state championship games will be played Saturday.