Written by Corbett Smith
No. 1 Converse Judson weathers fast Allen start to advance to 5A final
AUSTIN – For the first time since 2001, a Dallas/Fort Worth-area team won’t play for a boys basketball championship in the state’s largest classification.
Holding a two-point halftime lead, Allen scored only twice in the third quarter, as state No. 1 Converse Judson took control of the game for a 52-41 win.
“Judson is a team you don't want to play from behind against,” Allen coach Jeff McCullough said. “They don't miss a lot of shots. They don't turn the ball over.”
Judson (37-1) will face Galena Park North Shore (34-3) in Saturday’s 5A final, a battle between two football powerhouses which have never won a boys basketball championship.
“Of course, we’ve won six football titles,” Judson coach Mike Wacker said. “We would love to have one in basketball, especially with this senior group of kids.”
Allen (27-9) was outscored 16-4 in the pivotal third quarter, with Judson’s David Wacker – a Boise State signee and son of the head coach, a former Texas basketball star – scoring six points.
A 3-pointer by Tony Allen with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter gave Judson a 29-26 lead. It didn’t seem like a significant basket, sandwiched between lay-ups by Allen guard Nick Rutherford, but Judson never trailed from that moment – pulling away as Allen went scoreless for the next five minutes.
“It just felt like it was going stagnant for us on offense,” Allen guard Myron Fisher said. “We had some good looks, but our shots just weren’t going down.”
Allen couldn’t cut Judson’s lead under eight points in the final quarter.
Allen senior forward Jamuni McNeace could do little wrong in the first half, scoring 16 points – including the Eagles’ first 11 points for an 11-4 lead.
Judson’s defensive adjustments after half – with 6-9 senior David Wacker and 6-7 senior forward Tanner Leissner clogging up the paint – closed off Allen’s post scoring.
McNeace went scoreless in the second half, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
“We stopped letting them have offensive rebounds. …” Mike Wacker said. “We have a height advantage. We have to use it. Tall guys have to play tall.”
It was Allen’s first trip to the state tournament, with the start of this year’s playoff run the school’s first playoff win in 31 years.
“I'm extremely proud of these guys,” McCullough said. “Nobody expected us to be here except us. Hopefully we can build on this momentum.”