Written by Corbett Smith
Dallas charter school Triple A Academy has dominated Class A but isn't winning fans
Triple A Academy, the state’s No. 1-ranked Class A Division I boys basketball team, has heard the boos, the catcalls, the cries calling them “cheaters.”
“I really hope someone shows them up,” says a post on a popular thread on 1ATexasFootball.com, a Class A football website.
“I think all the 1A schools should get together and have another tournament, not inviting AAA,” says another.
The South Dallas charter school knows that such criticism is bound to come this week at the UIL state tournament. The school, in its first year of UIL play, is the overwhelming favorite to become the first charter school to win a boys team title.
If a hostile environment at the regional tournament at Abilene Christian is any indication, an Erwin Center filled with fans, coaches and administrators cheering against them won’t be surprising.
“It was a good lesson for the kids: Sometimes you have to rise above adversity,” coach Tim Singleton said. “It gave them a chance to grow up. … It’s good to see how they responded.”
In 14 games against Class A schools, Triple A (26-5) is 14-0 with an average margin of victory of 51.3 points. Its 26-point regional final win over Stamford was its closest game against a Class A school.
Even if the charter school issue weren’t a touchstone, few root for Goliath. But that’s not a problem, the players said.
“We know we aren’t going to have a lot of support,” junior guard Jeremiah Jefferson said. “So to make the other crowd shut up when we are blowing them out so bad, it feels so good.”
What’s lost in the school’s dominance this season has been the number of hurdles it’s faced along the way.
Singleton, a starter at Notre Dame under Digger Phelps, moved from athletic director to head coach at midseason after disappointing results in a holiday tournament.
Sophomore guard King McClure, son of school founder Leroy McClure, won’t play in the state tournament after dislocating his kneecap on Feb. 18. McClure, last season’s Dallas Morning News newcomer of the year, was Triple A’s leading scorer and rebounder, and is one of the top sophomores in the nation.
Reserve guard Cameron Cooks tore his ACL the day before McClure’s injury.
Singleton has brought an up-tempo, pressing style, focusing on shot attempts and rebounds.
“We’re always going to the ball, kind of like Yates,” sophomore guard Tyler Singleton said, referring to the high-octane attack of 3A semifinalist Houston Yates, which has reached the final four in four of the last six seasons.
The semifinal matchup between Triple A and El Paso Harmony (26-3), another charter school, will mark the first time two charter schools will meet at the state tournament. A week ago, Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams signed into effect a series of amendments passed by the UIL’s Legislative Council in October, one of which will require schools like Triple A or Harmony to play in a higher classification at the next alignment (2014-16).
Until then, Triple A, which doesn’t have a senior at its school, will be in the spotlight, and catch guff because of it.
“Everything is so new,” Leroy McClure said. “It’s like you don’t really know what to expect. If you really don’t have high expectations, you really can’t be disappointed.”
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN