Written by Corbett Smith
Gabe Lily follows in brothers footsteps as his 18 points propel Kimball past Brennan, into 4A final
AUSTIN — There’s something special about Texas’ Erwin Center and the Lilly family.
In 2011 and 2012, Gabe Lilly watched his older brother, Shannon, win back-to-back MVP awards in Kimball’s state title games, turning from another option to the main man under the spotlight.
On Thursday, in Kimball’s semifinal against San Antonio Brennan, it was Gabe’s time — and he didn’t disappoint.
The 6-1 senior guard scored 18 points, including eight points in less than a minute to break a tie midway through the second quarter. Kimball never trailed again, in a 64-52 win.
“My brother taught me most of my stuff,” Lilly said. “I just wanted to come out there and keep the legacy going.”
Kimball (23-9) will face Rosenberg Terry (30-9) for the 4A title at 3 p.m. Saturday.
With five state titles, Kimball entered as the established power, and looked it in the second half against Brennan (39-3), in its third year as a high school.
When Brennan whittled away its deficit to a single basket, Keith Frazier and Kimball would answer.
Kimball’s lead only reached double digits in the final two minutes.
After John Azzinaro, the No. 5 scorer in San Antonio high school history, hit a 3-pointer to close Brennan’s deficit to 39-37, Frazier answered immediately with a 25-foot shot 3-pointer, getting a technical by celebrating after the play.
When a dunk by Brennan’s George King cut Kimball’s lead to 49-45, junior forward Trent Brinkley muscled in a lay-up on the next possession.
“Our kids are not afraid of the moment,” Kimball coach Snoop Johnson said. “None of them.”
The game started ragged for both teams, perhaps a karmic carryover from Rosenberg Terry and Fort Worth Arlington Heights’ sputtering Class 4A semifinal that pushed Kimball’s tip-off past 9 p.m.
Kimball committed four turnovers in the first four minutes, while Brennan’s missed five of its first six free-throw attempts. Azzinaro hit a floater over Kimball’s Randelle Jones at the first-quarter buzzer, giving Brennan a 13-8 lead.
Frazier — uncharacteristically quiet from the field — gave Kimball a jumpstart in the second quarter. Frazier hit only one field goal in the first half, yet Kimball went on a 19-6 run over the first 4:45 minutes of the second quarter.
“Keith’s a real good teammate,” Lilly said. “He’ll always find the open man.”
Frazier would hit some of his high-arching jumpers in the second half, finishing with 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting and a team-high 10 rebounds.
“When he’s hitting 25-footers with two hands in his face, what are you supposed to do?” Brennan’s King said.
Azzinaro led all scorers with 25. No bench player from either team scored.
Frazier appeared to reinjure the mouth injury he suffered in the regional final win over Arlington Seguin with 4:53 remaining in the game. He left the court with a towel to his mouth, only to reenter the game less than a minute later.
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.