SPORTS HEADLINES

Unflappable Lady Eagle: Steady Mayfield guides team to title, helps another in playoffs

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, July 5, 2014

One word kept being repeated when asked about Decatur junior Makayla Mayfield.

Unflappable.

Defined by Webster as “not easily upset or unusually calm in difficult situation,” Mayfield was a fitting example with her play on the volleyball and basketball courts.

“Nothing bothered her,” said Decatur basketball coach Billy Garner. “She’s at an even keel all the time.”

Holding Court

HOLDING COURT – Decatur’s Makayla Mayfield turned in a memorable year on the court in volleyball and basketball. The 3A Player of the Year guided the Lady Eagles to the state championship. In the spring, she helped Decatur to the third round of the playoffs. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The bigger the moment, the more clutch she performed. With the Decatur Lady Eagles trying to get past longtime nemesis Argyle in volleyball, she delivered 20 kills to lead the team to a victory and keep them on the path to a state title.

On the basketball court, with her team down in the closing seconds of the Class 3A area final against Princeton, she hit the buzzer-beating 3-pointer to lift the Lady Eagles to victory.

Among her many honors this year, she was named Class 3A volleyball Player of the Year by the Texas Sportswriters Association, 9-3A MVP and Wise County MVP in volleyball.

In basketball, she received honorable mention for the 9-3A squad and Wise County team as one of the top bench players in the area.

“It means a lot that people think that much of me,” said the humble Mayfield.

Adding to the list of honors, the Decatur junior is now the Messenger’s choice as Wise County Female Athlete of the Year.

“It’s a huge honor to be picked out of all the athletes in the county,” Mayfield said.

As a freshman, Mayfield offered glimpses of her immense talent, meshing easily with a talented group of seniors on the Decatur varsity. During her sophomore year, she began to emerge as one of the team’s leaders. She earned 9-3A Defensive Player of the Year after a team-leading 349 digs and serving 60 aces. She also added 351 kills, including 17 in the region final against Argyle.

Expectations for Mayfield and the Lady Eagles were high as they took the court in August.

“There was a lot of pressure because we went so far the year before,” Mayfield admitted.

An injury early in the season to one of the Lady Eagles’ other top hitters made the spotlight on Mayfield even hotter. She answered the call with an impressive all-round performance, recording a team-high 508 kills and making 540 digs. She also had 79 aces and 34 blocks.

“Makayla was the rock for the team. She was always the go-to person,” said Decatur setter Stormi Leonard. “You could never tell she had the whole team, all the pressure, on her.”

Decatur coach Claire Benedict also witnessed the growth in Mayfield, whose mental preparedness matched her jaw-dropping athletic ability during the season.

“She had to step up. She got a lot of sets,” Benedict said. “She’s always had the physical ability. She developed the mental ability to help lead us. She was just very consistent. It’s hard to rattle her. She’s very controlled and smart.”

While she appeared cool to everyone else, Mayfield admitted there were some nerves when the Lady Eagles met Argyle in the third round of the playoffs. Argyle had already beaten the Lady Eagles twice in the regular season, after beating them in the region finals the year before.

“It was crazy. I had to stay focused the entire time,” Mayfield recalled. “It was the hardest game. We all wanted to beat Argyle. Though we were all excited, we needed to stay focused.”

After the team got down 2-1, Mayfield delivered the kill in the fourth game to put Decatur ahead for good.

“At that point, I want the ball,” Mayfield said.

The pressure only helped her focus, she added.

“I just think about how bad I want to win. You have to stay calm and focused,” Mayfield explained.

The Lady Eagles rolled through the regional tournament to net the program’s first state berth. Mayfield put down nine kills with nine digs and two aces in the semifinal win over Big Spring. In the title game against Bellville, Mayfield made 14 digs and put down seven kills to help Decatur take the gold medal.

“It was crazy to know that we were the first team to win state for Decatur,” Mayfield said. “We were all excited. We just played our hardest.”

Mayfield didn’t take long to celebrate the victory, going out for basketball the next week. Coming off the bench, she added depth along with being a stalwart on the defensive end.

“She went right in and didn’t miss a beat,” Garner said. “Her quickness and jumping ability helped a lot. There’s a lot of times, I’d watch her do something and turn to someone on the bench and ask, ‘Did she really just do that?'”

Mayfield averaged 3.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

Just as she did in volleyball, Mayfield came up huge in big moments. In the 9-3A tiebreaker against Krum, Mayfield helped lead a second-half surge with her on-the-ball defense. Her steal and layup in the fourth quarter started a game-winning run.

In the 3A Region II area game, Mayfield was forced to play heavy minutes due to an injury to guard Murphy Graham, and foul trouble. In the closing seconds, her team was down 47-45. Backup point guard Sidney Carter fought through the press and got the ball to Mayfield on the wing.

Mayfield, who had not hit a 3-pointer all season before hitting one in the first half, drained the shot from the wing at the buzzer to give Decatur the 48-47 victory.

“I’m not the person to give it to at the end of the game,” Mayfield said. “It happened really fast. I just threw it up there. When it went in, I was in shock.”

Excited teammates mobbed Mayfield, and Garner was left speechless. But Mayfield still remained fairly calm amid the chaos.

“It was no big deal to her. She got the ball and shot it. If she would have missed it, she would’ve reacted the same,” Garner said. “Her emotions never change.”

Her drive also never changes. After a memorable junior year, she is determined to make her final year of high school even better.

“There’s a lot of motivation for my senior year. I want to do just as good in volleyball and basketball,” Mayfield said.

For Decatur’s opponents, that’s a scary thought.

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