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03/09/20

The Cooldown: Week 28

Photo via @BellaireHigh on Twitter.

Another long season of basketball has culminated in the annual UIL State Championships. Houston wasn’t able to have a representative from 6A Region II as Spring Westfield lost to Ellison in the regional semifinals on Friday night. However, the strongest team in the area all season is making it down to San Antonio. Check out our state tournament preview right here as the Houston area sends three teams to state.

Class 6A State Tournament Preview

Regions I, III and IV went just about as we expected. The state’s No. 1 and No. 2 team’s won their respective regions while three-loss San Antonio Brandeis will represent Region IV at state. However, Region II did not go at all how it was expected to.

First of all, I said in our playoff preview that Klein Forest could be dark-horse in the region, and the Eagles got bounced din the first round. The dark-horse wound up being unranked Wylie, who upset No. 3 Ellison on Saturday to claim a state bid. Just a day before Ellison had beaten No. 19 Westfield handily and looked ready to roll into the state tournament. Wylie had other plans.

So as it is, Dickinson will get the upstart Wylie Pirates in the late game of the state semifinals. Should the Gators win, they’ll face the winner of No. 1 Duncanville and No. 22 Brandeis in the state finals.

Dickinson got here with an impressive 83-69 win against Morton Ranch on Friday before surviving a scare from Bellaire (who had an outstanding season and probably should've gotten talked about more among the area contenders) on Saturday. The Gators are just about as tested as any team could be at this point: they’ve compiled a season-long record of 32-5 while playing some of the best competition in the state. Their playoff road included teams ranked Nos. 12, 10 and 14, in the order of which they played them.

It’s easy to look ahead to a potential Dickinson-Duncanville showdown. While Wylie and Brandeis can’t be underestimated at this point of the season, a showdown between the top two teams in the state, DFW versus Houston, is exactly what we want to see. Dickinson has impressed all season with a roster full of guys who can hoop; it’s only right their season end with the ultimate test.

Class 5A State Tournament Preview

Opposite of 6A, there were hardly any surprises in Class 5A. No. 16 Mansfield Timberview, a state tournament mainstay over the last half decade, is the Region I representative. No. 1 Lancaster won Region II while No. 2 Hightower won its rubber match with Shadow Creek to represent Region III at state. Region IV features No. 5 Wagner, the Thunderbirds are also no stranger to the state tournament.

Also unlike 6A, we won’t have to wait a day to potentially see a one-versus-two matchup: No. 1 Lancaster and No. 2 Hightower match up in the state semifinals on Friday, in what is yet another DFW-versus-Houston matchup on the biggest stage.

Hightower owns a record of 33-5 while Lancaster sits at 36-1. However, Hightower has found a rhythm in the last few months and the Hurricanes have leaned on sophomore Bryce Griggs, who had 42 points in the Region III final against district rival Shadow Creek.

I can’t say I know much about the rest of the field in 5A, but with Griggs being just a sophomore, now is a good time for fans to get used to seeing Hightower in San Antonio. They may not win it this season, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if the Hurricanes were hoisting the trophy on Saturday afternoon.

Class 4A State Tournament Preview

This might be the least surprising bracket of the bunch. The Region I representative is No. 8 Argyle; Region II sends No. 3 Faith Family; Region III is once again represented by No. 1 Yates and Region IV sends No. 20 Stafford.

Yates will be the overwhelming favorites to win the state tournament, and they’ll be looking for a little revenge. The Lions lost to Faith Family in last season’s semifinals, 80-74. Yates meets Faith Family once again in the semifinals, but the Lions will be heavily favored this time around: Faith Family is the No. 3 team in the state despite 13 losses, while Yates has lost only four games this season. Two of those four losses were blowouts in the 2019 Thanksgiving Hoopfest, both to highly ranked prep schools. One of those losses was to Montverde Academy, the top high school program in the nation.

Argyle comes in sporting a 33-4 record while Stafford clocks in at 32-9. Nothing should phase Yates: they haven’t been tested all season outside of the Thanksgiving Hoopfest. This includes breaking its own national record for most 100-point games in a row. That streak came to an end after China Spring decided to play keep away for much of its blowout loss on Friday, but holding Yates under 80 points is virtually impossible. Expect the Lions to roll to a state championship this weekend.

Cy-Creek Girls fall just short

Without Rori Harmon, Cy-Creek survived one upset bid at the state tournament from McKinney, squeaking past with a 54-51 win. They wouldn’t survive the second upset bid.

Duncanville repeated as state champs with a 63-47 win against previously undefeated Cy-Creek. While the perfect season fell one short of the ultimate goal, a 41-1 season with a loss to one of the best girls’ hoops programs in the nation is nothing to joke about. The good news for Cy-Creek is that Rori Harmon is back next year and the Wildcats could have a chance to get to 41-0 once again.