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Kimball holds off SOC, solidifies area top spot

DALLAS -- Royce Johnson, head coach of ESPNDallas.com Class 4A No. 1 Dallas Kimball, believes the top team out of the DISD will be the favorite to make it to the state championship game.

On Saturday, his team took another huge step in being the best in town by eking out a close win over District 11-4A rival South Oak Cliff, 59-55.

No. 9 South Oak Cliff had a chance to take the lead with 15 seconds left in the game and trailing by one. But Kimball's Jalen Jones came up huge with a block, sealing the game for the Knights.

"I knew that everyone was going to crash the boards," Jones said. "The main thing was if I could get the rebound or try and get the block. It really gave us a boost and really sealed the victory for us."

Jones was one of two high scorers for his team and for the game, tying Jordan Williams with 15. Right behind was teammate Jarion Henry with 14.

Kimball passed the eye test during the game, with bigger, more athletic players on the court. However, speedy SOC guard Christopher Hyder and his teammates were able to capitalize off of many Kimball turnovers, keeping the Bears in the game.

Johnson said he believes the turnovers came from his team putting unneccesary pressure on itself and trying to win by a large margin to look attractive to national pollsters.

"The kids think you have to beat people by a certain number, and we'll fix that," Johnson said. "I think we did the things we're supposed to do to build a lead up to a 10-point game and then we started getting more conscious on trying to push the score up instead of just being smart."

Kimball also struggled with its outside shot but elected to stick with it. Johnson said that with the talent he has, he can't blame his players for wanting to keep shooting.

"They recognized that we were off a little bit and they kept giving it to us," Johnson said. "It's hard for me to tell the jump shooters that we've got that they aren't going to hit the next one. I'm with them. They've bailed me out sometimes and we're just going to bail each other out."

Kimball (24-1) moved to 7-0 in the district and handed SOC (13-6, 6-1 in district) its first league loss of the season.

"It's a rivalry in the district and always has been a rivalry," Johnson said.