Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: North Texas continues its impressive stretch of state titles
When Kimball’s Torrey Henry sank a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left Saturday afternoon, the crowd at the Frank Erwin Center erupted in a boom of shock and excitement.
The shot from the right corner was part of a stunning 30 seconds in which Kimball scored the final eight points to defeat Houston Yates, 78-75, and win a second straight Class 4A title.
Torrey’s shot will be one of the enduring moments of this year’s University Interscholastic League tournament.
For Flower Mound Marcus fans, a lasting memory will be of guard Phil Forte swishing a clutch jumper late in the Marauders’ 56-52 victory over Fort Bend Travis. Forte then made six free throws in the final minute as Marcus repeated as 5A champion.
In the 3A championship, Argyle fans won’t soon forget Connor York’s back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter. They turned a one-point deficit into a five-point lead as Argyle pulled away for a 44-33 victory over Corpus Christi Miller.
The common thread to all of those moments, of course, is that they were created by teams from North Texas. The balance of power in basketball continues to lean north.
Saturday’s sweep of the largest three classifications was impressive but certainly not unique. North Texas teams also swept the 3A, 4A and 5A boys titles in 2006 and ’08 during what has become the golden age of basketball around here.
The success is astonishing. Since 2006, teams from North Texas have won 15 UIL boys basketball titles in 3A, 4A and 5A. The rest of the state has combined for six.
The success has been equally impressive at the girls state tournament. Local teams have won 12 of the last 16 titles in 4A and 5A, and the last two 5A championship games weren’t even competitive.
Before the state tournament, Duncanville coach Cathy Self-Morgan said that the win over Irving MacArthur in the regional final was the real state championship. She wasn’t being brash.
Duncanville needed overtime to beat MacArthur, and a week later, the Pantherettes beat Spring Dekaney, 69-31, in the most lopsided 5A final ever. That came a year after MacArthur thumped Georgetown by 23 points in the 5A title game.
So how did it get like this?
There’s no specific reason. But right now, the Dallas area has a deeper pool of elite boys and girls teams than anywhere else in the state. The exceptionally competitive year-round select teams feed the high school squads with players who are talented and battle-tested.
The rest of the state, and especially the Houston area, still has loads of basketball potential. Back in the 1980s, the North Texas teams were trying to catch up. From 1980 to 1989, teams from the Houston area and South Texas won 14 boys state titles in 4A and 5A to North Texas’s two.
Eventually, the balance of power will shift more toward the center. But for now, North Texas is the gold standard. That’s why Kimball coach Royce Johnson said Yates, the 4A champion in 2009 and ’10, won’t just roll to a title when it drops to 3A next season.
“Dallas is so strong that they are going to run into something just as strong as us in 3A,” he said.