Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Kimball, Houston Yates want another shot — at a title — and each other
Basketball in the state of Texas, at least at the 4A classification in the last several years, has been all about Houston and Dallas.
The cities (and not even their outlying suburbs) have ruled since 2004, a streak in which a Dallas or Houston ISD team has won the state championship, if you count the titles South Oak Cliff won but later vacated.
Use a sample size of just the last four years, and the results are even more compacted. Two teams clearly dominate — Dallas’ Kimball and Houston’s Yates. Both are in the semifinal this year, which means the streak of Yates or Kimball championships may continue. Yates won in 2009 and 2010, and Kimball won last year.
And many people in both cities would like to see them meeting again, evident from the Internet chatter since the playoffs began. Because when Yates and Kimball play, it is the best of Dallas versus the best of Houston.
“Everybody is talking about it,” Kimball forward Darion Hancock said. “As we are to Dallas, they are to Houston.”
This matchup has happened before, just three years ago. Yates was the nouveau riche. Outside of PVIL titles from the 1950s, it had only one state tournament appearance and no UIL championships. But coach Greg Wise had remade the program. With its running and pressing style, Yates had become the top team in Houston and in its first UIL championship game, played Kimball.
Kimball was inconsistent that year, losing 10 games, but rode David Kyles, Darian Thibodeaux and Cotton Giles to the state title game. From there, current seniors Shannon Lilly and David Tucker remember what happened. They were freshmen then, in Austin as managers, watching from the bench.
“We saw the warmups and were like, ‘Man, this isn’t going to be good,’” Tucker said.
Lilly said it seemed like Yates had six players on the floor. Yates won the game, 94-78. Nothing much from that game, as far as players or experience, still really exist in the same sense. Just the names of the teams.
Yates further established itself as a top program with a 2010 season that ended in a state championship and mythical national championship. Kimball won its fourth title, and first since 1997, last year.
Detractors and controversies have come with the success for both. National columnists attacked Wise for his team’s penchant for running up the score in 2010. At the start of last season, senior forward Maurice Ellis was ruled ineligible as a junior for transferring for athletic purposes.
At Kimball last season, two players transferred in as seniors, Jalen Jones and Jordan Williams, leading to district executive committees having to consider their eligibility, which was granted. The same thing happened with star junior Keith Frazier this year.
With that kind of notoriety, a mix of success and drama, this game has been on the basketball community’s mind for a while, for months. Back in October, Yates senior forward Clyde Santee tweeted this out of the blue: “played against the dudes from dallas kimball two times this summer and they are not good at all..” Tucker and Lilly both mentioned seeing it, both easily remembering it several months later.
“We were like, ‘Oh man, they’re already thinking about playing us,’” Tucker said.
Now Yates and Kimball are almost ready to play, almost. They each have to win a semifinal matchup.
“It seems like that’s the game — Kimball and Yates,” Kimball coach Royce Johnson said, “but there are two other teams down there.”
Johnson, Tucker and Lilly maintain they aren’t overlooking their semifinal opponent in San Antonio Alamo Heights for the possible glamour matchup in the final. Though, the rest of us clearly can’t wait.
Kimball vs. San Antonio Alamo Heights
7 p.m. Thursday (Time Warner Texas Channel)
District: 11-4A (second)
Coach: Royce “Snoop” Johnson
State titles: 4 — 1990, 1996, 1997, 2011
Previous state appearances (last): 8, (2011)
Playoff victories: 82-70 against Hillcrest, 72-47 against Highland Park, 56-44 against Woodrow Wilson, 85-76 against Manor, 84-63 against SOC
Top players: Junior G Keith Frazier, senior G Shannon Lilly, sophomore F D’Angelo Allen.
Notable: Kimball defeated a Region IV opponent, Cedar Park, last year in the state semifinal, 50-36. … Shannon Lilly was the 4A state tournament MVP last season. … Every time Kimball has advanced to the state tournament, it has won its semifinal game. … Keith Frazier is sixth in the 4A area in scoring (21.7 ppg), fourth in assists (7.3. apg) and 11th in rebounding (8.1 rpg).
SAN ANTONIO ALAMO HEIGHTS
District: 27-4A (first)
Coach: Andrew Brewer
State titles: 2 1952, 1954,
Previous appearances (last): 4 (1991)
Playoff victories: 52-39 against Boerne Champion, 57-39 against Cedar Park, 64-55 against Austin Lake Travis, 72-58 against San Antonio Lanier, 50-39 against San Antonio Edison
Top players: Senior G Jeffrey Rodewald, sophomore C Ben Lammers, junior G Wes Miller.
Notable: This is the first year for coach Andrew Brewer. He replaced Charlie Boggess, who moved to Antonian. … Alamo Heights outscored Edison 17-4 in the fourth quarter of its regional final victory. …Alamo Heights was the No. 2 team in the state in the last TABC poll.