Written by Jon Machota
Kimball reaches fourth straight 4A state tournament with wild 22-9 fourth quarter run
GARLAND — A wild run in the final minutes was needed, but for the fourth consecutive year, the Kimball boys basketball team is headed to the state tournament.
After trailing for the majority of the afternoon, Kimball played at a different level over the final 4:42, outscoring Lancaster 22-9 during that stretch to win the Class 4A Region II final, 66-62, Saturday at the Curtis Culwell Center.
“The kids did a good job of playing tired and just willing their way to victory,” Kimball coach Royce Johnson said. “They just willed it. It’s nothing that we drew up. It wasn’t an X and O thing, it was a will thing.”
Leading the way for Kimball (24-7) was point guard Jawun Evans, who scored 20 of his game-high 24 in the second half, with 12 coming in the final six minutes. Evans, a transfer from South Carolina, is rated as one of the top 100 juniors in the country by Rivals.com.
“The University of Texas is one of the schools that he likes,” Johnson said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m going to get you [to Austin].’ Even at the end, he told me to put the ball in his hands. I like guys that say that. I trust him.”
Lancaster (31-5) took the lead a couple minutes into the opening quarter and never trailed until a steal led to an Evans layup, making the score 58-57 with 56 seconds remaining.
A pair of Antwon Portley free throws put Lancaster back ahead, but a baseline jumper by D’Angelo Allen gave Kimball the lead for good. Derias Johnson added a layup, and Cordel Finley and Evans were perfect on the game’s final four free throws.
“It was real crazy,” Evans said. “The main thing was that we needed to lock up on defense and get rebounds, and that’s what we did.”
Standout junior power forward Elijah Thomas finished with 18 points, five rebounds and three blocks for Lancaster, which defeated Kimball, 77-70, in the DISD Coca-Cola Tournament in December.
Kimball has reached the state final each of the last three years, winning it all in 2011 and 2012.