Written by Matt Wixon
Kimball survives feverish Beaumont Central second half to advance to fourth straight 4A title game
AUSTIN — Although Kimball led by nine early in the fourth quarter, coach Royce “Snoop” Johnson expected Thursday’s Class 4A semifinal to be tight in the final minute. It’s going to come down to one play, he told his players.
D’Angelo Allen made that play by swatting away a potential game-tying basket on Beaumont Central’s next-to-last possession. Kimball escaped with a 60-56 victory and earned a spot in the championship game for the fourth straight year.
Kimball (24-7), a state champ in 2012 and 2013 and runner-up last year, will play Amarillo (28-5) for the championship at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“He relishes those plays on defense just like Michael Jordan might want a last-second shot,” Johnson said of Allen. “He wants that stop.”
Kimball needed that final stop despite grabbing control in the second quarter and extending its lead to 11 in the third. Senior Dondre Carter hit 3-pointers early, and when Central (31-5) extended its defense, Kimball junior point guard Jawun Evans attacked the basket. He scored 21 of his 23 points in the first half.
“I just felt like I could make anything I shot,” Evans said.
Central double-teamed Evans in the second half, and Kimball’s offense got sluggish. Still, after a pair of free throws by Trenton Brinkley, Kimball’s lead was 56-47 early in the fourth quarter. Central whittled away at the lead, and with 3:09 left, Andre Morris hit a jumper to pull Central within 58-56.
“When you play a team that’s 31-4, they’re not going to go away,” Johnson said. “I kept telling the kids that this one’s going down to the end.”
Kimball missed three straight free throws in the final 2:35, and that allowed Central to have a chance to tie or take the lead on its final possession. Central’s Michael Jacquet got in the lane and got a good look at the basket, but Allen — a 6-7 senior playing in his fourth state tournament — stretched high to reject it and preserve Kimball’s 58-56 lead.
“I just reacted quickly and made the block,” said Allen, who had five blocks.
Carter got the rebound and started a fastbreak that ended with Xavier Johnson’s layup, which gave Kimball a four-point edge with 11 seconds left.