by Glenn Smith
Tell me, what must Dallas do to get your respect? When it comes to Texas basketball, you give Houston all the love. We can only win so much. The NBA shows us love—DISD alone has over 11 guys in the NBA getting quality minutes. Every major basketball conference respects our toughness but, for some reason, no one loves us… but us. So we sent six teams down to the state tournament, and three came back as champions in their classification.
5A State Final
The finals had already been set—nationally ranked Strake Jesuit (37-0) vs. Cedar Hill (34-3) with the winner set to get a top-10 ranking in every major poll throughout the country. Someone should have told DeSoto they weren’t supposed to beat No. 6 ranked Strake Jesuit 48-44 in the state semi-finals.
With the stage set, a crowd of 9,000 marveled as David (Desoto) defeated Goliath (Cedar Hill) 59-47 in the “Battle of Beltline.”
“No one picked us to be here, but we had confidence in ourselves that we should be here,” said an exuberant junior Evan Washington.
The two schools, separated by six miles, used the state capitol to decide not only the state champion, but the King of the Metroplex. Trailing 22-20 going into intermission, DeSoto used an 8-0 run to start the third stanza and did not look back. Up by four with eight minutes before a state champion is crowned, championship-game MVP Dominic Bennett ignited a 12-0 run and gave DeSoto their first state championship since 2003.
4A State Final
How do you beat a team that likes to pressure the ball? You put more pressure on them. Houston Yates used “32 Minutes of Hell” in front of a frantic crowd of 15,521 to force 27 turnovers.
Kimball did what it could, when it could, but there was no answer for championship-game MVP Joseph Young who hit seven threes en route to 29 points as Yates defeated Kimball 94-78. Expect Yates to be a pre-season top-five team in the country next year.
3A State Final
Dallas Madison and Lubbock Estacado had been No. 1 and No. 2 for almost the entire season. What better venue to find out the state’s top 3A team than the championship game?
With less than seven seconds left in overtime, it was the ice cold free-throw shooting of championship game MVP Dominique Smith that sealed the victory for the South Dallas natives, 68-66. Madison finished the season on a 25-game win streak.
2A State Final
What beats a state championship? Back-to-Back championships!
Ponders raced out of the locker room in the old school University of Indiana candy cane sweats, and their play down the stretch was just as sweet. To the untrained eye, Ponder can appear to be a boring ballclub. To basketball enthusiasts, watching Ponder play is like watching your favorite rapper compose your favorite song. Like watching your big mama bake your favorite pie.
Ponder used old school fundamentals—triple-threat positions, head-fakes, reverse pivots and even the two-handed bounce pass. Ponder out-crafted a more athletic New Waverly team to claim back-to-back state championships, 51-39. It was the clutch performance of championship game MVP Isaiah Boxtell who led his team with 13 points and 5 assists.