Coach Cathy Self-Morgan is ready to get her Pantherettes on the road to state for the McDonald's Texas Invitational Basketball Tournament, which begins this Thursday.
When the McDonald's Texas Invitational Basketball Tournament opens on Thursday, 79 of the 80 coaches will have the same goal. By a lot or by a little, they want to win.
One coach will be just as focused on what she doesn't want. Cathy Self-Morgan, coach of the defending state champion Duncanville girls team, doesn't want to get behind. Ever.
“I don’t even like to lose a quarter," she said. "I don’t like to get beaten. I don’t like to be on a team that gets beaten. I push the kids to push all the way through overtime until we win."
The Pantherettes, who finished 39-0 last year, have won the girls division at the Texas Invitational four out of the past five years -- with a short setback in 2014, when North Shore took the crown. Duncanville blistered North Shore 75-49 in last year’s title game.
“We work hard to prepare and get in shape for the Texas Invitational,” Self-Morgan said. “I think we won because we had better conditioning and maybe more depth than the other teams that made it to the tournament. Every second counts in being productive.”
Self-Morgan does not play games when it comes to winning on or off the court. Her teams’ achievements bear that out:
- She has compiled a career record of 1,061 wins and only 206 losses in the 17 years she has coached the Pantherettes.
- Her Duncanville teams have made it to the playoffs all 16 years of her tenure.
- She led the Pantherettes to state championships in 2003, 2012, 2013 and 2016.
- From 2012 to 2014, Duncanville won 105 consecutive games.
- Last season the Pantherettes finished first in a national poll to determine a national champion.
The Texas native’s competitive spirit began when she started her basketball career at Jourdanton High School. Self-Morgan was a well-rounded student who ran cross country, played tennis and was a drum major in the marching band, where she played all reed instruments. She even tried her hand at acting and performed in a one-act play.
While she excelled in extra-curricular activities, it was her social life that she was determined to change.
“I was a tall, skinny toothpick. That’s what they called me,” she said. “I had braces and I didn’t feel popular or like I had close friends. When I started playing basketball, I found out I was pretty good at it and I became popular.”
She decided not to let criticism prevent her from achieving her goals.
“As I grew up, I looked at those people and paid attention to them,” she said. “They had gifts and qualities. I used these gifts and made the best of them.”
Eventually, she received a scholarship to play basketball at Temple Junior College. After her freshman year, she transferred to the University of Texas, where she became one of the first women on athletic scholarship in basketball. Her senior year, she played under Jody Conradt, one of the most successful coaches in the history of women’s basketball.
“I learned so much from her,” Self-Morgan said. “She taught me that it’s not about the individual. It’s about the program and what we needed to do to be successful. She was very straightforward and honest. I picked up those traits -- although, I was very honest even before that.”
As a Lady Longhorn, Self-Morgan was honored as the most valuable player in 1975, co-MVP the following year and the recipient of the school’s Scholar Athlete Award in 1977.
She graduated summa cum laude with highest honors in 1977 and received her master’s degree in education from Southwest Texas State (now Texas State University) in 1984. She was inducted into the UT’s Athletics Hall of Honor in 2004.
She began her coaching career at Austin Westlake. She led the team to the Class 4A state title in 1993 and then to 5A state championship in 1995 and 1996.
In 2014, Self-Morgan was named Coach of the Year to the national high School Girls’ Basketball Naismith and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. She also was also recognized by USA Today in 2013 as the National Coach of the Year and the National Coach of the Year by MAX PREPS. She has also been honored by the National Federation of High School Professionals as the Coach of the Year.
Self-Morgan has received high praise in Texas where she has been named Coach of the Year by the Texas Girls Coaches Association and the Dallas Morning News. She also earned the Texas High School Girls Coach of the Year by the Texas Sportswriters Association four times.
This year Self-Morgan coached the All-American West team which competed in the Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn. She has also coached the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star games five times and was part of the coaching staff for the McDonald’s All-American All-Star game in Oklahoma City.
Self-Morgan attributes her successes to those she has met along the way.
“I surround myself with good people who are better than I am in the areas where I am weak,” she said. “We work together as a team and are all hard workers. None of those awards are mine, not even the woman of the year.”
Her husband, Jack, “deserved that one,” she said. Jack Morgan keeps the scoring book for away games and serves as the announcer for home games. Self-Morgan called him her “support system.”
She recently decided to step down as athletics director of Duncanville ISD to focus on her position as a coach for the Pantherettes.
“I just couldn’t do it,” she said.
“Coaching is the biggest reward. It’s definitely not a paycheck. When the kids come back to you after they have graduated from college and you see how well they’re doing and how happy they are to know that you have helped them become self-sufficient women – it’s a rewarding feeling.”
Duncanville opens on Thursday at noon against Pearland Dawson at Deer Park Watkins. The two other teams in Duncanville's pool are Clear Falls and Cy-Woods.