Varsity girls basketball wins third consecutive state championship


Tanner Cromeens

The Lady Eagles varsity basketball team won the State Championship for the third year in a row.

The Lady Eagle basketball team gathered in a San Antonio ice cream parlor March 5 to celebrate head coach Joe Lombard’s birthday. Moments before the celebration, the girls presented Lombard with his birthday gift: a third consecutive state championship.

The Lady Eagles defeated Frisco Liberty High School 41-34, bringing Lombard’s career total to 18 state championships, 12 of which were earned by Canyon High teams. This year’s victory was also a birthday present for Lombard, which senior Caitlyn Cunyus said makes the win all the more special.

“The state tournament is on his birthday almost every year,” Cunyus said. “It is a great birthday present for him. The threepeat makes the win more special because not many people have done it.”

Everybody below us will step up and continue the tradition.”

— Caitlyn Cunyus

Tournament MVP junior Angel Hayden earned all-tournament team honors along with Cunyus, who was also named to the all-tournament team the prior two years. After her final game as a Lady Eagle, she said she was not worried about the future of the team and trusts the younger players to do the work necessary to win a championship.

“It takes a lot of concentration and focus and everyone working together and really depending on each other,” Cunyus said. “You have to play for each other and not just yourself. Everybody below us will step up and continue the tradition.”

Junior Paitlyn Tankersley said younger players have gained motivation from multiple tournament appearances to continue a tradition of excellence.

“Some people will have to step into some pretty big shoes with the leadership and team chemistry, but we have a lot of talented girls and I think we will be able to do it,” Tankersley said. “We are ready to try to step up and get it another year.”

Tankersley has competed in the last two state tournaments and said senior leadership made a big difference in this year’s team.

“Our five seniors brought a lot of leadership to the team as well as a lot of talent,” Tankersley said. “Next year it will be a lot different not having them and their strong personalities and problem-solving skills.”

Along with the senior players, Tankersley said the team also owes the tradition of victory to hard work and the support of others.

“We had a lot of help with the girls we pulled up this season,” Tankersley said. “They knew the other team’s plays by heart so we would know how to react to them. We were backed up by the other teams in our school. The community also really does a great job of coming to our games and cheering for us.”

Tankersley said the repetition of state championships has not made the team any less motivated or lessened the satisfaction of a hard-fought win.

“The threepeat probably makes it even more special,” Tankersley said. “A year from now this is all going to change. It will not be ‘the threepeat’ anymore and it will not be the same team, but each state championship we win keeps its value.”