DALLAS -- A large and loud South Oak Cliff (26-6, 14-0) crowd showed up at Sprague Field House on Wednesday to cheer its team on to a 77-74 win over rival and host Dallas Kimball (25-5, 11-2) for the District 11-4A title, SOC’s first since 2008.
“We worked too hard to get to this point and let go,” SOC guard Dennis Jones said. “We wanted to come out with the win and be district champs and go into the playoffs on a good note.”
In a game that remained close until the final buzzer, Jones took over in the final minute, scoring four of his team’s final five points to secure the win.
With 56 seconds remaining, Jones was fouled on a jump shot and hit both free throws to put his team up 74-71.
“We practice pressure free throws every day in practice,” Jones said. “We try to simulate game situations. My team put me in the right situation to do that, and I knocked the free throws down -- just like practice.”
Kimball standout Keith Frazier was fouled shooting behind the arc on the next possession, but only managed one of the three charity shots.
Jones turned on the jets after the SOC rebound on the final free throw and went the distance of the court to finish a layup that put his team up 76-74.
“I was looking for one of my teammates to see if they were open and they kept jumping in front of me and trying to rip me from the crossover, so I just took it to the rack strong,” Jones said.
Forward Bradley Umoru hit one free throw in the final seconds for SOC’s final point.
A 6-0 run early in the second quarter gave SOC a lead that wouldn’t fall below a tie score for the remainder of the game.
Emotions ran high for both teams in the first half with two technical fouls were handed out for post-whistle activities and taunting.
Halftime adjustments by SOC coach James Mays II settled his players into their game, rather than playing on emotion and what Kimball was giving them.
“I told them that Kimball was going to make a run,” Mays said. “That lead we had at half wasn’t going to hold. We had to block out and Keith was going to get his points. We just had to make him work hard and hopefully, at the end, he would start missing some, and he missed some down the stretch, so that helped.”
SOC will play Dallas Bryan Adams in the bi-district round of the 4A playoffs, which begin Monday. Kimball will face longtime rival Dallas Lincoln in the first round.
In the end, SOC put its claim on the field house in Kimball’s back yard, continuing a history of success at Sprague.
“This is old school for us,” Mays said. “We played a lot of big games in this gym. We never had a problem playing here. Once our crowd gets in it boosts us.”