High School: 2012 UIL boys basketball playoffs

UIL boys state basketball tourney in review

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
12:57
PM CT

Travis L. Brown and Damon Sayles look back at all the action last week at the UIL boys basketball state tournament.

5A MVP Forte heads up all-state tourney team

March, 11, 2012
3/11/12
1:16
PM CT

Flower Mound Marcus guard Phil Forte, MVP of the Class 5A state championship game, was named to the UIL all-state tournament team.

Forte was joined on the 5A team by teammate Marcus Smart after the Marauders defended their state championship.

State champions Dallas Kimball and Argyle also each placed two players on the all-tournament teams.

Kimball's Torrey Henry and championship game MVP Shannon Lilly are on the 4A team. Argyle's Connor York and championship game MVP Clarke Overlander made the 3A team.

Here are the complete all-state tournament teams, as selected by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches:

AUSTIN, Texas -- Flower Mound Marcus guard Phil Forte left last season’s 5A state championship win with some unresolved business.

His 2010-11 season statistically finished well below par and was covered by the gigantic shadow of No. 12 recruit Marcus Smart.

[+] EnlargeFlower Mound Marcus celebrating
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comFlower Mound Marcus celebrates winning back-to-back 5A state championships.
That hunger of regret drove him to finish his senior season with a much better taste in his mouth.

Marcus’ senior big three -- Forte, Smart and Nick Banyard -- went out with a bang, taking the 5A state title for a second straight year in a 56-52 win over Fort Bend Travis on Saturday.

Forte leaves high school with no regrets, picking up the game’s MVP award with a game-high 24 points, 12 of which came from behind the arc. Forte shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 6-for-10 overall from the field.

“I wanted to get back and prove to everybody I’m a much better player than I showed last year,” Forte said.

“He did struggle last year,” Smart added, “and for him to come out and do what he did tonight, I’m just so happy for him.”

Almost as important as his long-distance performance, was his perfect, 8-for-8 shooting from the free throw line, including four at the end of the game.

“Our coaches and teammates have the most confidence in me,” Forte said. “I’ve just always loved shooting the pressure free throws. The coaches want to put the ball in my hands when there are pressure free throws on the line. My teammates did a great job of supporting, and I just stepped to the line and knocked them down.”

While Forte demonstrated his prowess on the offensive side of the court, the team showcased its traditionally strong defensive effort against Fort Bend Travis’ high-scoring twins, Andrew and Aaron Harrison.

Andrew Harrison was able to pick up 23 points on the night but was forced to earn the majority of them at the free throw line.

Marcus coach Danny Henderson said the game plan was simply to make it as hard as possible for them to score.

UIL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
Boys brackets: 5A »   4A »
Girls brackets: 5A »   4A »
State tournament: Girls » Boys »
“It was going to take a team defensive effort, which is what our defense is anyway,” Henderson said. “My goodness, those are the two best guards we’ve ever faced. They are incredible. They’re going to be NBA players. I don’t have any doubt.”

Smart and Banyard also closed the books on their high school careers with key efforts in the win. Smart’s stat line proved his balance as an all-around player -- 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Banyard put up a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. He also stole the show with an alley-oop in the third quarter that electrified the Marcus crowd.

That trio, along with senior A.J. Luckey, put up an astounding 115-6 record over the last three years, including three trips to the 5A championship game.

To those players, those three years meant more than just wins, losses and gold medals.

“This is an incredible team,” Smart said. “We’re more than just a group of guys who wear the same jerseys. We’re actually a family, a brotherhood. We definitely stick to being one team.”

AUSTIN, Texas -- Dallas Kimball pulled out a come-from-behind 78-75 win over Houston Yates for its second straight 4A state championship.

Kimball trailed state nemesis Yates, 75-73 with just over twelve seconds left as forward Sheldon Yearwood held the ball at the free throw line.

Junior star recruit Keith Frazier, who had a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds, was on the floor. Last year’s 4A championship MVP Shannon Lilly, who had hit five 3-pointers as a part of a game-high 27 points, checked in.

[+] EnlargeKimball
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com Kimball celebrates its second consecutive 4A state basketball championship.
Yearwood's pass went to junior Torrey Henry, who threw up a wide-open 3-point attempt.

“I had confidence in him,” Yearwood said.

The ball hadn’t finished spinning through the nylon before most of those in attendance at the Frank Erwin Center jumped to their feet.

Seconds later after a missed Yates 3-point try, Kimball (34-5) celebrated its 4th boys state basketball championship, the second in as many years, over Yates (33-6).

“All year long this group of kids -- they're a young group -- but someone always found a way to step up,” Kimball coach Royce Johnson said. “That’s what we talked about before the game and at halftime and going into the fourth quarter -- someone was going to have to hit a big shot.”

Returning to the spotlight was Lilly, hitting clutch 3-pointers in the second half that led to his second MVP award in two years. His personal additions to the Kimball trophy case rank him among some of the most influential players in the storied Kimball basketball program, Johnson said.

That intense action from Lilly and the Knights wasn’t there throughout the entire game. Kimball began the game hesitant, which showed in the free throw column of the first-half score sheet.

Yates hit 17 of 21 from the stripe, counter to Kimball’s meager 4-for-7. Kimball settled for the outside shot, which gave it a 33.3 percent shooting percentage and a 36-30 deficit at the break.

Kimball ignited some passion in the second half, picking up its pace on offense. In turn, the Knights dominated the fast-break game, scoring 23 points in transition.

UIL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
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State tournament: Girls » Boys »
Ironically, it was perimeter shooting that would ultimately seal the game for Kimball.

Lilly began the Knights' comeback with a step-back 3-pointer with just under two minutes to play, which Johnson said “opened the door” for Kimball’s resurgence.

When the ball found Henry’s hands in the corner, Johnson first tried to shout a reminder to his player that Kimball trailed by only two.

“I was trying to remind him what the score was and tell him to drive. “I always tell my players to have confidence,” Johnson said. “As a coach, I’m going to tell you what I think, but don’t be afraid to make a play and I think that’s what he did. He locked in and when he let it go, I felt good because he didn’t hesitate. He was trying to win.”

That 3 exercised two demons that have haunted Kimball in the last ten years. It vindicated the Knights from a loss to Yates in the state finals in 2009. It also put Kimball on the winning side of a last-second victory, healing the emotional wounds inflicted on Johnson after losing the state championship in 2002 on a half-court prayer.

“Tonight we got over ’02. We hit the big shot and we’re over it," Johnson said.

With those shortcomings put to rest, Henry began a new chapter in the collective memory of Kimball basketball by burying one shot.

“It was history,” Johnson said.

Win gets Kimball coach over '02 heartbreak

March, 10, 2012
3/10/12
9:09
PM CT
AUSTIN, Texas -- Forgive Kimball head coach Royce “Snoop” Johnson. He admitted Saturday that he’s kept a decade-old secret.

Back in 2002, Johnson was on the sidelines when his Knights were robbed of a Class 5A championship when San Antonio Jay’s Chris Ross drained a half-court, buzzer-beating shot. Kimball lost, 54-53.

[+] EnlargeKimball's Johnson
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com "Tonight," Kimball coach Royce "Snoop" Johnson said, "we got over '02. We hit the big shot. We're over it."
Johnson told reporters after winning last year’s Class 4A title that the 2002 game was out of his mind. Deep down, that loss has stayed with him, silently gnawing at his insides and making him constantly ask, “What if?”

Until Saturday.

Exactly 10 years and a day later, the Knights were on the positive end of a dagger heard around the Texas basketball world. Torrey Henry drained a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining to take the lead from Houston Yates, and Kimball repeated as 4A champion with a 78-75, come-from-behind victory.

“Tonight,” Johnson said, “we got over ’02. We hit the big shot. We’re over it.”

There are plenty of words and phrases to describe Saturday’s impressive win. Vindication. Exorcising of past demons. Silencing harsh critics.

Shocking the world.

Kimball did all of that, and it got the job done against a Yates team that many felt was heavily favored. The Lions were averaging 100.8 points in their first six playoff games. They were back-to-back state champions in 2009 and 2010. Several of the seniors were sophomores on that last championship team.

Yates was a favorite to many. Johnson, however, didn’t feel that way.

“Before the game, I thought we were the favorite,” Johnson said. “Back in ’09, we were talking upset. [Saturday] before the game, we said if we lost, it was going to be an upset.

“All year long, this group of kids has always found a way to step up. That’s what we said start of the fourth. Someone has to make the big shot. They found a way to win and were not afraid to lose.”

What makes Kimball’s win that much more impressive is that the Knights were down five with 33 seconds left to play. Henry hit a 3-pointer to trim Yates’ lead to 75-73 with 29 seconds left. Following a missed free throw, Henry took a pass from Darian Hancock and drained a 20-footer in the corner -- right in front of the Kimball bench -- and hit the biggest shot of his basketball career.

“I knew I had to step in, shoot with confidence and follow through,” Henry said. “I knew I had God on my side, and I let it go.”

UIL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
Boys brackets: 5A »   4A »
Girls brackets: 5A »   4A »
State tournament: Girls » Boys »
While Henry provided the game-turning moment, Shannon Lilly Jr. provided multiple big-game shots that led to Henry’s basket. Lilly scored nine of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, including the last two free throws of the night. It was Lilly’s play that not only spearheaded Kimball’s miraculous run but also earned him his second-consecutive state tournament game MVP award.

Lilly, who Johnson called “Mr. Big Shot,” said winning state was special, but defeating Yates was a bonus. He was a freshman when Kimball lost to Yates in the state-title game in 2009.
“I had to do it for my brothers that lost in ’09,” Lilly said. “I know they’re feeling good about it. I wanted to do it for them and the community.”

Kimball left Austin with tons of confidence and the opportunity to gloat -- even though the players chose not to after the game. Knowing that they were the two-time defending 4A champions allowed them to write their own tickets without saying a word.

For Johnson, knowing that the Jay game wouldn’t haunt him anymore made him smile that much brighter.

“We’re not really caught up in the back-to-back [talk],” he said. “I just know that the trophy’s still at home. They know we’re trying to be relevant every year. The kids meet the expectations. They don’t shy away from it.”

Damon Sayles covers Midlands recruiting for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at dsaylesespn@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSayles
AUSTIN, Texas -- Defensive-minded Flower Mound Marcus coach Danny Henderson’s top priority in Saturday’s 5A state final is slowing the offensive production of Fort Bend Travis’ Harrison twins.

Henderson wouldn’t reveal his thoughts on defending Aaron and Andrew Harrision, a pair of 6-foot-5 guards.

“We’ve been working all week on all three teams that are down here, but we’ll make some decisions [Friday night] on how to guard them,” Henderson said after Marcus’ semifinal win Friday.

However, one of Marcus’ top defenders, Nick Banyard, said he wants a shot at one of the twins, and he will mostly likely have his wish granted.

“I told coach after the game that I would be ready to guard one of them,” Banyard said. “It doesn’t matter to me -- I just want to guard one of them.”

Banyard, a New Mexico signee, said he has guarded both Harrison twins in various AAU games, which he believes gives him an edge by “kind of knowing all their moves”.

Banyard said his best defense will be to get under their skin and try to frustrate them out of good play.

“I know what gets in their head," Banyard said. "If you get in their, head they get real frustrated real easily. You’ll probably see me talking a lot.”

Both Banyard and Marcus Smart agreed that Henderson would most likely use Banyard and A.J. Luckey to guard against the twins, mixing Smart into the mix sporadically throughout the game.

“Eventually I’ll be matched up with them, but I don’t think at the beginning because we have two great defenders with A.J. Luckey and Nick Banyard," Smart said.

Banyard matched up against Garland Naaman Forest’s 6-foot-11 center Prince Ibeh in Marcus’ state semifinal, holding him to six points and seven rebounds.

The players should get what they want in defensive matchups Saturday, but Smart knows the game is really a matchup the entire state has yearned to witness.

“Everyone has wanted to see Flower Mound Marcus versus Travis." Smart said, "and they got it.”

Patience pays off as Argyle wins 3A state title

March, 10, 2012
3/10/12
1:44
PM CT


AUSTIN, Texas -- A fan called the Argyle basketball team “the new-school Hoosiers” because of the similarities in offensive pace and strategy between the Eagles and the famous movie characters.

Like the Hoosiers, Argyle finished its season on a high note. The Eagles defeated Corpus Christi Miller, 44-33, in front of 7,946 at the Frank Erwin Center to capture the Class 3A state title.

[+] EnlargeClarke Overlander
Travis L Brown/ESPNDallas.comClarke Overlander finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for Argyle and was named MVP.
Argyle (31-8) won its first basketball championship -- and it did so by sticking with what it does best. The Eagles executed an efficient half-court offense and forced Miller to put up unwanted shots on defense. Argyle head coach John King said patience was the key to victory, as it has been throughout the season.

“If we have to make five passes or 25 passes, we have to be patient,” King said. “Our No. 1 goal on defense is to keep people out of the paint and not give up layups. We make people shoot jump shots. Teams want to get transition [games] going, and we want to shut it down.”

No team in the postseason scored more than 37 points against the Eagles. Credit that to the team’s ability to eliminate second-chance opportunities. Miller was held to eight points in the paint and eight second-chance points.

On the flip side, Argyle -- a team noticeably bigger than Miller -- finished with 16 points in the paint and nine second-chance points. Miller’s tallest starter was 6-foot-1.

“They did a great job with controlling the tempo of the game,” Miller coach Maurice Bastian said. “We were never able to get our transition game going. Argyle would take advantage of our mistakes, and with their high IQ, we couldn’t get them rattled with our defensive pressure.”

By the halfway point of the first quarter, Argyle had a 9-2 lead. The Eagles led 16-12 at halftime, as both teams struggled from the field. Argyle made only 30.4 percent (7 of 23), while Miller made 23.8 percent (5 of 21).

Shooting proved to be an Achilles’ heel, especially for Miller, in the second half. The Pirates finished the game making only 11 of 45 (24.4 percent) shots from the field, and they connected on only 3 of 21 (14.3 percent) from the 3-point line.

For Argyle, it wasn’t how many shots were taken, but when shots were made. Connor York hit all three of his 3-pointers within a five-minute span of the third and fourth quarters. His buckets helped the Eagles pull away after Miller had taken an 18-17 lead midway through the third.

“Going into that, I had not hit any [3-pointers],” York said. “They were telling me to keep shooting. I’m a shooter, and that’s my job.”

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State tournament: Girls » Boys »
King added: “Connor has been a key part of this whole run. If you go back to the Madison game and the Lovejoy game, he’s the one who really got us going offensively. He struggled in the first half, but we all had confidence in him, and he had confidence in himself.”

Buckets by Clarke Overlander and free throws by Zach Dickerson gave Argyle a double-digit margin. The Eagles’ largest lead was 13 with 1:35 remaining.

Overlander finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists and was named the state tournament game MVP. York added 13 points, and Andrew Resch finished with three points and 13 rebounds, nine of those coming on the defensive end.

“This puts us over the hump,” Overlander said. “Cross country has won state. Girls basketball has won state. Band has won state too many times to count. This puts us over for guys basketball.

“This will be No. 1 on my list. I’ve been dreaming about this one since the first grade.”

Marquis Lewis led Miller (30-10) with 10 points.

Damon Sayles covers Midlands recruiting for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at dsaylesespn@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSayles.

Live chat: Basketball state championship games

March, 10, 2012
3/10/12
10:00
AM CT
Another fantastic high school basketball season wraps up today.

Follow along right here as our experts answer your questions and provide insight and live updates from the state championship games.

State pressure gets to Garland Naaman Forest

March, 10, 2012
3/10/12
12:13
AM CT
AUSTIN, Texas -- There was obvious disappointment in the faces of the members of the Garland Naaman Forest basketball team. Disappointment but also a sense of accomplishment.
What many will notice in Friday’s Class 5A state semifinal is the final score: Flower Mound Marcus 59, Naaman Forest 34. What those same people will forget are three specific points.

No. 1: Marcus is the defending 5A state champion for a reason.

No. 2: Marcus is the state’s top-ranked team for a reason.

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No. 3: This was Naaman Forest’s first time in a limelight this big. And if head coach Jeff Clarkson has his way, it won’t be his team’s last.

Naaman Forest simply ran into a determined Marcus team -- one that now is a state-tournament veteran, making its third consecutive trip. Even with stars Demarcus Holland and Texas-signee Prince Ibeh, the Rangers couldn’t find answers for Marcus, particularly McDonald’s All-American and Oklahoma State-bound Marcus Smart.

“It was tough. They played real well,” said Ibeh, who said he enjoyed playing at the Frank Erwin Center, his future college home court. “I just wish it would have gone differently. I think the stage of it all kind of brought us jitters.”

The anxiety definitely showed throughout the game. The Rangers only shot 25.5 percent for the night, making 13 of 51 attempts. Naaman Forest (29-8) also missed 8 of 12 free throws. Holland, Ibeh and Kent High -- Naaman Forest’s top three scorers -- combined for 18 points.

Marcus, on the other hand, made 47 percent (21 of 45) of its shots and all 13 of its free throw attempts. Smart finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, and he made all eight of his free throws.

Clarkson said his team came out tentatively when it should have been more aggressive. Naaman Forest settled for long jumpers rather than attacking the basket. It didn’t keep Marcus out on the paint, as the Marauders scored more than half of their points (30) inside the burnt orange-colored rectangle.

Chalk it up to playing on the state’s biggest high school basketball platform, in front of 8,245 screaming fans -- many cheering for the Marauders. Also, chalk it up to Marcus’ bread-and-butter defense, which has helped it win 38 of 40 games this season.

“They did the things we knew they were going to do, and we knew they were coming, but they are all great players.” Clarkson said of Marcus. “Coach [Danny Henderson] does a great job in getting them the ball where they need it, and they made great shots.”

As Naaman Forest accepted its semifinalist medals, very few tears were shed. Partly because of the respect for Marcus being the better team Friday, and additionally because it was playing with house money. Few expected the Rangers to advance deep in Region II. Fewer expected them to beat DeSoto in the regional title game.

In making its first trip to state, Naaman Forest silenced a lot of critics and solidified its reputation as a team to watch. Next year should be interesting, as the Rangers return five players from a senior-laden roster.

“Obviously, our guys had a great year, and we wanted to perform better,” Clarkson said. “This senior group brought our program to a different level. They’re dedicated kids on and off the court, and they work hard on their game. They came together as a team this year, and that was really the difference.

“We’ve had some talent, but these guys grew up and gelled to have that success. Unfortunately, we had to play Marcus [Friday]. They brought their A game and took it to us.”

Damon Sayles covers Midlands recruiting for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at dsaylesespn@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSayles
AUSTIN, Texas -- To Flower Mound Marcus standout Marcus Smart, Friday’s 59-34 Class 5A state semifinal win over Metroplex neighbor Garland Naaman Forest was a statement.

Holding Naaman Forest (29-8) to just five points in the first quarter was just a small reminder to the crowd at the Frank Erwin Center.

[+] EnlargeAJ Luckey
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comFlower Mound Marcus will try to defend its state title against Fort Bend Travis on Saturday.
“There’s been a lot of trash talking going on that we heard from their crowd," Smart said. "They act like they deserve to be here and they were supposed to beat us. We have total respect for that team and that coaching staff, they have all the right to have their confidence, but they left out one part -- that we’re the defending state champions and not only that -- we’re the No. 1 defense in the state of Texas.”

Smart and his teammates backed that up, putting up 7-0 and 6-0 runs to start both quarters of the first half. Naaman Forest failed to move past the five-point mark until there were just two minutes left in the half. Naaman Forest finished the game shooting just 25.5 percent.

Marcus (38-2) limited Naaman Forest’s 6-foot-11 center Prince Ibeh to six points, seven rebounds and no blocks, thanks mostly to senior forward Nick Banyard’s defensive effort. Banyard said after the game he was glad he could contribute on the defensive side of the ball after a slow game on offense.

“I had to do something right on the court because offensively, I wasn’t very good,” Banyard said “I had to pick it up defensively.”

Banyard finished with six points and five rebounds, but made every point count on three huge dunks.

By the fourth quarter, the game was easily out of hand, allowing the Marauders to have a little fun before Saturday’s state final match. Smart fed Banyard on a couple of alley-oop dunks and then took a few of his own to the rack with authority.

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Banyard said the fun ending to the semifinal game will help him going into Saturday.

“Having fun is my No. 1 thing,” Banyard said. “At the beginning of the game when people are serious -- that’s really not me. I’m never the one that’s just locked in -- I’m always just trying to have a good time and get loose.”

Banyard and Marcus will need to be loose going into their state championship matchup against Fort Bend Travis and the Harrison twins at 8:30 p.m. Aaron Harrison put on a scoring clinic in Travis’ semifinal game against Northside Warren, picking up 30 points in the win.

Smart had all the confidence in the world after Friday night’s win, but even the No. 12 recruit in the nation will have a few butterflies before his bid for a second straight state title.

“Any kid that says they come out to a big game like this and says they’re not nervous is a liar,” Smart said. “You’ve got little pregame jitters but it’s just how you cope with it.”
Check in here for scores from Friday's state semifinal action and follow me @espn_TLBrown for live, in-game updates.

Class 2A

Brock 60, San Antonio Cole 55
  • Brock center Drake Osborn led his team in scoring with 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
  • San Antonio Cole center Ronnel Jordan put up a impressive game-high of 36 points.
  • Brock advances to the 2A state semifinal Saturday at 2 p.m. against White Oak
White Oak 67, Idalou 45
  • White Oak forward Jerred Whisenhunt had a game-high 18 points and was one of four White Oak players to score in the double digits.
  • Idalou center Alan Zahn and guard Koal Houchin tied for the team lead with 11 points.
  • White Oak plays Brock in the 2A state final Saturday at 2 p.m.
Class 1A Division II

Graford 74, Lenorah Grady 63
  • Graford guard Zac Tabor put up an incredible 43 points in the game, tying the 1A record for points in a game with George Scott and John Ray Godfrey.
  • Bransen Richards did his best to try and keep up with Tabor, scoring a team-high 29 points.
  • Graford will play Calvert in the 1A Division II state championship Saturday at 7 p.m.
Calvert 76, Roxton 54
    Class 5A

    Fort Bend Travis 85, Northside Warren 72
    • Travis guard Aaron Harrison led his team in scoring with 30 points and was one of three players to score over 10.
    • Four players for Warren scored in double digits, led by Taurean Waller-Prince with 21.
    Flower Mound Marcus 59, Garland Naaman Foreset 34

      Denton Ryan's quest ends in 4A state semis

      March, 9, 2012
      3/09/12
      12:00
      AM CT
      AUSTIN, Texas – It was a fun ride.

      Denton Ryan’s quest for a Class 4A state championship was railroaded by the juggernaut that is Houston Yates, as the Raiders fell, 87-67, to the Lions in a 4A semifinal Thursday night.

      [+] EnlargeDenton Ryan
      Travis L. Brown for ESPNDallas.comDenton Ryan's improbable run for a 4A championship ended with a loss to Houston Yates in the state semifinals.
      Twelve seconds into the game, Yates’ Clyde Santee drained a 3-pointer. That bucket turned into a 26-15 lead, which eventually turned into a much worse problem for Ryan. By halftime, Yates was cruising, 46-25.

      “They got hot early, hitting seven 3s in the first 10 minutes. It was not a good thing for us,” Ryan coach Bryce Overstreet said. “I felt like in the second quarter, we didn’t make the best decisions in transition.

      “Their length affected us. We haven’t seen a team this year that possesses an amount of length they have at every position.”

      For a while, Ryan (23-12) showed the fight that turned a third-place team out of District 4-4A into the Region I champion. The Raiders’ Marcus Holcomb hit a 3-pointer with roughly 6:30 remaining to trim Yates’ lead to 46-36.

      But Yates (33-5) turned on its jets in the fourth quarter and managed to pull away with the play of Clyde Santee, J.C. Washington and Oregon signee Damyean Dotson, in addition to strong defensive play. Ryan’s dream season -- one that included its last three wins by a total of seven points -- was over.

      UIL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
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      “We knew we had to play four good quarters to be in [the finals] on Saturday,” Yates coach Greg Wise said. “The intensity was there. We knew they only played six or seven guys, and we wanted to make sure we got to them from the beginning.”

      Dotson led Yates with 26 points and made 7 of 13 from the 3-point line. Dotson added six rebounds and four assists. Santee had 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and Washington added a double-double, 10 points and 11 rebounds.

      Holcomb led Ryan with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting. UTSA football signee Trey Mohair added 19 points but made 6 of only 21 attempts. Sam Johnson finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

      Yates, looking to win its third championship in four years, will face Kimball on Saturday afternoon.

      Damon Sayles covers Midlands recruiting for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at dsaylesespn@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSayles
      AUSTIN, Texas – Dallas Kimball coach Royce Johnson’s nerves could not have been any higher on the bus ride from the team hotel to the Erwin Center on Thursday.

      The defending state champions could not catch a light on the six-block trip to the host stadium of the boys state tournament, putting the Knights in a time crunch before their state semifinal game against San Antonio Alamo Heights (34-3).

      [+] EnlargeKeith Frazier
      Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com No. 22 overall player Keith Frazier has LSU, SMU, Texas and TAMU all vying for his services.
      Kimball (33-5) had around 11 minutes to warm up and shoot before the beginning of the game, Johnson said.

      Kimball’s natural talent came through as the Knights beat Alamo Heights, 47-43, to advance to the 4A state final.

      “The kids did a great job bailing me out,” Johnson said. “I was hoping we could just make a couple of shots because we needed them.”

      It took the majority of the first quarter for the Kimball shooters to find their touch, including standout scorer Keith Frazier, who began the game 2-for-6 from 3-point range.

      Defense kept Kimball in the lead through a tough first half shooting, forcing Alamo Heights to scramble down the court against a half-court zone trap. Alamo Heights coach Andrew Brewer said his team struggled to make shots because Kimball closed out more quickly than any team it had faced this season.

      “My main focus was to work hard on defense and just let the offense come,” Frazier said.

      The offense would find traction in the second quarter, thanks to turnovers forced by the Kimball defense, which accounted for seven points off turnovers, six on the fast break.

      Alamo Heights never said die, including senior guard Dylan Lieck who drained two 3-pointers late in the fourth, bringing his team as close as three points to the lead. Johnson said he told his team to watch out for Lieck.

      “That was a guy we talked about this morning,” Johnson said. “You could see the determination on his face. His determination in the second half willed him to make a couple of shots because he didn’t want to go home.”

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      Kimball senior and last year’s 4A championship game MVP Shannon Lilly will have the opportunity to play in the final again. While his eight points were overshadowed by Frazier’s 22, the leadership role he has assumed this season and this state tournament has made this year a completely different experience.

      “Last year, I played most of the time shooting guard. Now that I can be a leader that I play point guard, I can keep everybody focused on the court and just be a leader.”

      Lilly and Kimball play 3:30 Saturday against the winner of the semifinal between Denton Ryan and storied Houston Yates.

      If Yates prevails, Saturday will feature a rematch of the 2009 state finals, where Yates took the title over Kimball, 94-78.

      “We’re going to be ready on Saturday and I think it’s going to be good for the fans -- whether it’s Ryan or Yates,” Johnson said.

      Argyle boys control pace, advance to 3A final

      March, 8, 2012
      3/08/12
      4:47
      PM CT
      AUSTIN, Texas -- The score Thursday afternoon looked more like a football final, but instead of quarterback Austin Aune raising his hands in victory, it was forwards Clarke Overlander and Andrew Resch and the rest of the Argyle basketball team.

      [+] EnlargeAndrew Resch
      Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comAndrew Resch had nine points and eight rebounds for Argyle, which is headed to the 3A final.
      The Eagles advanced to the Class 3A state championship by defeating west Texas power Lubbock Estacado, 41-34, in front of 7,872 at Frank Erwin Center. Argyle (30-8) will face Corpus Christi Miller in Saturday’s final at 10 a.m.

      Argyle was methodical against an Estacado team that traditionally likes to run an up-tempo offense. It was the Matadors’ transition game that put them in the state tournament three of the last four years.

      But Argyle found the ultimate neutralizer, playing great defense and holding Estacado (27-8) to only four fast-break points and only five second-chance points.

      “Our game plan was not to turn the ball over too many times in the press,” Argyle coach John King said. “We knew they [Estacado] were a very good team. Our goal was to make them be more perimeter players than penetrators.”

      Part of Argyle’s success was making Estacado play its style of basketball. The first quarter ended with both teams tied at 5, and Estacado didn’t score its first bucket until the 2:24 mark of the first quarter. Argyle's lead at the half was just 14-13.

      From there, the Eagles managed to pull away slightly in the second half, shooting 57 percent (8 of 14) from the field and making 77 percent (10 of 13) of their free throws. Estacado shot only 29 percent (8 of 28) in the second half.

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      “They did exactly what I thought they’d do,” Estacado coach Tony Wagner said. “Whenever we got close, we’d make a dumb foul, or they’d make a big shot, or something like that. They came out and executed their plan. They kept us out of the lane, and we launched too many jump shots.”

      Added King: “On video, we saw that they obviously were a transition team. We wanted them to be a set-up team. I don’t remember a big six- or eight-point run they had, and that’s a tribute to our defense.”

      Overlander, a North Texas signee, led the way for Argyle with 17 points and seven rebounds -- all defensive. He made seven of 11 shots, including the game’s opening 3-point shot.

      “Walking into that gym, everybody’s eyes got big,” Overlander said. “As a senior leader and one of the captains, I tried to make everyone comfortable and set the tone at beginning of the game.”

      Additionally, Resch finished with nine points and eight rebounds, and Connor York added seven points for Argyle. Dell Willard led Estacado with 13 points.

      Damon Sayles covers Midlands recruiting for ESPN Recruiting. He can be reached at dsaylesespn@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSayles
      So much can happen to a high school athlete in just a year’s time.

      Flower Mound Marcus basketball standout Marcus Smart headed into the 2011 boys state tournament dealing with all of the attention being one of the nation's top recruits entailed.

      He also had just received closure in an off-the-court investigation into the motives of his transfer to Marcus – which, of course, was ruled in his favor.

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      Smart, with a hand from his teammates, overcame these distractions in Marcus’ 40-38 win over Garland Lakeview Centennial in the Class 5A championship game. He notched a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds and was named the title game MVP.

      Since then, Smart committed to Oklahoma State and earned a selection for the prestigious McDonald's All-America game. And now, Smart and the Marauders have the chance to repeat as state champions minus all the distractions on the periphery.

      “He’s always been mature beyond his years,” Marcus coach Danny Henderson said. “He’s an even better player this year than last year because of his work ethic.”

      Marcus returns four of its five starters from last year’s championship game, three of which signed D1 scholarships in the offseason. Forte will join Smart at Oklahoma State, while Nick Banyard will head to New Mexico.

      However, there is a legitimate case in saying Marcus would not be back in Austin for the third straight year if it weren’t for Smart.

      In this year's regional final against South Grand Prairie, Smart stepped up and blocked Jovan Austin’s bid for a 3-pointer as time expired to preserve Marcus' 39-38 win, punching the ticket to Austin.

      “He loves to compete more than anyone I’ve ever known in my life,” Henderson said “He lives for this stuff.”

      While Smart leads the charge on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, it’s evident by his actions on and off the court that he actually lives for his teammates – who make up quite a supporting cast.

      Smart’s point guard and best friend Phil Forte actually leads the team scoring with almost 15 points a game and can be a sniper from 3-point range.

      Banyard can spark the Marauders with a big 3 or by jamming down an alley-oop off a back-door cut and can create offense by being another big body in the post, gathering in rebounds.

      Guard A.J. Luckey has flown under the radar, overshadowed by Marcus’ big three, but has taken games on his shoulders this season by driving to the lane and finishing acrobatic layups.

      At this weekend's state tournament, the Marauders will have to deal with targets on their back and high expectations as the defending champions.

      To counter this throughout the year, Henderson instilled a plan into his team that would make Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett proud – taking everything one day at a time.

      “Because of those expectations, we took a minefield mentality,” Henderson said. “As you walk into a minefield, trying to get to the top of a hill, you don’t dare look up at the third and fourth step up in front of you. You just look at the next step and that’s all we focus on.”

      The first obstacle in Marcus’ two-step to state comes Friday night against Garland Naaman Forest. The Rangers flew under the radar through the regular season but peaked when it counted in the playoffs, making them one of the hottest teams headed to Austin.

      “They are similar to Connecticut in the way they rolled through the playoffs,” Henderson said, referring to last year's NCAA champion. “That’s what UConn did last year and that’s what these guys did and, quite frankly, that’s all that matters. Naaman Forest may be playing the best out of [all the 5A state tournament teams] right now.”

      With this weekend’s trip to Austin being Marcus’ third in as many years, Henderson isn’t worried that his team will be caught up in the mystique of the event. But that doesn't make it any less special for the coach.

      “There’s great coaches sitting in that audience that never get the opportunity to coach in Austin,” Henderson said. “It’s a humbling experience because I’ve been so fortunate and so blessed.”

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