Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Kimball keeps its eyes on prize in win over Pinkston
Kimball plays with a deliberate, grand illusion each game. The opponent is always that night's given team, yet at the same time, the opponent is Houston Yates.
Since last year, since Austin, that's been the state of mind.
"Our intentions are getting back to that game," coach Royce Johnson said. "We come out thinking about another team while still respecting everybody."
Yates defeated Kimball in the Class 4A state title game last season. In Kimball's world, every game, every victory, brings the team closer to another matchup.
Saturday provided an early test of the Knights' readiness, and they passed with a 70-59 victory against Pinkston (17-8, 7-2 District 11-4A) at Sprague Fieldhouse.
The game turned into a challenge late. Kimball (18-7, 9-0) led by 19 early in the second half. Then Pinkston's Ollie Jackson and Davoun Hunter warmed up, and with 5:20 left, the Vikings tied the score at 52.
Sensing the need, Kimball senior David Kates and junior Jarion Henry counseled their teammates.
"We got in the huddle and were like, 'let's go,' " Henry said. " 'Pick it up a little bit.' "
Kates has grown into the leadership role all season. An all-state performer last season, he's taken that experience and tried to spread it to his younger teammates.
After two baskets by Henry and one by Shannon Lilly, it was Kates who came up with a steal and layup that gave Kimball a commanding 10-point lead with just less than three minutes left.
The real product of the victory is a two-game lead in the district race. The Knights, though, are always playing with something and someone else on their minds: Yates.
Consider Saturday's victory a completed challenge, with plenty more to come.
"It feels like we're in the same business as last year," Kates said.