If not for last season’s cancellation, we could be looking at a true dynasty.
But by all accounts, Duncanville’s current run is a dynasty seeing as the Panthers were favorites in the state tournament last season too. Duncanville (29-1) didn’t have a chance to properly defend its 6A crown a year ago, so the team took care of the back-to-back Saturday night against Austin Westlake (31-1), 66-53. The game was a rematch of a regular-season game in which Duncanville also won.
“We’ve played against everybody, we’ve taken everybody’s shot,” Duncanville head coach David Peavy said. We’ve had a target on our back the last three years. These guys are used to that; to crowds to pressure situations and they know how to win.
“It’s hard for me to say I envisioned coming and winning three state championships. But the situation we’re in, the support we have, the players we have, it makes things to where we can do what we’re doing right now.”
With just over two minutes to play, Westlake cut the Panther lead to one possession following a pair of KJ Adams free throws. Duncanville senior Damon Nicholas raced down the floor, drove in the lane and initially missed his floating layup. The senior collected his own rebound, drew contact from the Westlake defense and converted the and-1 play. Two possessions later, Nicholas was in a one-on-one fastbreak and once again finished through contact and again drew the and-1. The Duncanville lead pushed back to seven before eventually ballooning to the 13-point margin of victory.
“It’s been a long four years for me,” Nicholas said who was also a starter on Duncanville’s first title team under Peavy in 2019. “We really did it for the seniors last year, but we couldn’t get that ring because of COVID but it’s very fun.”
Nicholas finished with just seven points making his late surge all the timelier. Duncanville was largely carried on offense by seniors Zhuric Phelps and Juan Reyna who finished with 29 and 15 points respectively. Phelps was named the game’s MVP.
“All these guys had been in tight pressure situations,” Peavy said. “We’re in pretty good shape. Right now, everyone is tired and exhausted. But we’ve pushed ourselves to the limit and I just feel like when we get down in close games and pressure situations, these guys are ready for that.”
For much of the first half, Duncanville contained Westlake four-star prospect Adams, a future Kansas Jayhawk. The 6-foot-7 forward had hands in his face, faced double-teams in the post and had just seven points in the first half before putting up 13 in the second half. Adams finished with a double-double with 12 rebounds.
“One of our core values is to leave it better than you found it and they did that,” Westlake head coach Bonifacio Lucero said. “(Adams and the seniors) left Westlake better than they found it. They’re disappointed because they didn’t feel like they played their best game, but we don’t get here without them and their leadership.”
Lucero credited Duncanville’s ability to make Westlake chase the game the entire time. Westlake led for just three minutes of the game compared to Duncanville’s 26.
Peavy is now 19-0 in the postseason since coming to Duncanville.
“As soon as Coach Peavy came here, the whole vibe was just different,” Nicholas said. “That’s when I got introduced to coaching. Every practice was tough, but it was worth it.”