Written by Corbett Smith
Kimball boys continue to play their best in crunch time and now have opportunity to join elite company
When Kimball beat Lincoln in this year’s regional quarterfinals, coach Snoop Johnson was asked to explain how his teams seem to turn the page for the playoffs.
Over the last two seasons, Kimball has not won its district. Yet, Kimball and Johnson find a way to peak when it matters: a three-week stretch from February to March.
“I tell the guys, the regular season is for them,” Johnson said. “The playoffs, that’s for me and my staff.”
The two-time defending Class 4A champ, Kimball is on the precipice of putting itself in rare company.
If it can win two more games this weekend at the UIL boys basketball tournament in Austin, Kimball will become only the seventh program to win three consecutive titles.
Kimball (22-9) faces San Antonio Brennan (39-2) in a 4A semifinal at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Only two schools — Houston Wheatley and Beaumont Hebert — are recognized by the UIL for winning three straight titles in one of the state’s largest two classes. South Oak Cliff — winners of four straight 4A titles from 2005 to 2008 — was stripped of the 2006 4A title and forfeited its 2005 title because of grading improprieties.
Junior forward D’Angelo Allen said after the regional quarterfinals that Kimball’s recent successes are easy to explain. Its players know what to do when the playoffs start, thanks to the trust between Johnson and the team built on the foundation of previous playoff wins.
In turn, Johnson returns that faith to his players.
Against Arlington Seguin in the Class 4A Region II final, senior Keith Frazier took an elbow to the head and was helped from the court. He dislodged a tooth and did not suffer a concussion, Johnson said. He put Frazier back in the game after 11 minutes and asked him to “create something.” Frazier — one of the top unsigned prospects in this year’s class — did just that, making a key assist and the game-winning basket in the final two minutes.
Kimball won, 54-52.
“I don’t think my kids are ever afraid to make plays,” Johnson said.Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.