Aledo knows UIL state championships.
After winning three state football titles in a row from 2009-11 on the shoulders of record-setting running back Johnathan Gray, the school knows the drill.
Rusty Johnson experienced those title runs as the cornerbacks coach for Aledo over the past six years and now can use that experience as the head girls basketball coach for the state-bound Aledo squad.
“A lot of the things they do in the approach, the demands of the kids, the mindset, the focus, the preparation and the accountability — all the things that take place over there have paid dividends for that program,” Johnson said. “I certainly try to soak up all I can and learn all I can and take some of the things I was exposed to and learned from [head football] coach [Tim] Buchanan and bring it back to my program.”
Aledo’s path to the state tournament was fairly easy until the basketball team’s first-ever regional final against El Paso Hanks. The Bearcats (31-8) survived, 50-48, which included a last-second missed shot by Hanks.
“When it left her hand I thought she made it,” Johnson said. “We contested the shot, but it was one that she had already hit a couple of in the fourth quarter already. When it left her hand it looked pretty good. I’m just thankful it rimmed out.”
Johnson said the close game was a blessing as Aledo heads to Austin.
Johnson said they are sticking with the same practice schedule that has worked all season and will leave for Thursday’s state semifinal against Dallas Lincoln early Thursday morning. Aledo traveled the day of its regional semifinal game against Canyon and Johnson said he liked the way his girls responded to the itinerary.
Winning without star
A family dream could have been realized this weekend on Kennedale’s second trip to the state tournament had Jemaika Hughes not torn her ACL over the summer.
Jemaika would have been the second of Kennedale head coach Vance Hughes’ daughters to play for him at the tournament in Austin, following in the footsteps of Destini Hughes in 2007-08.
“[Jemaika] hasn’t played with us all year long,” the coach said. “She’s the best player we had starting out the year and we had to rearrange things when we found out that we weren’t going to have her.”
Through the efforts of many players, Kennedale (30-6) filled the void of losing its best player so effectively that it will make the program’s second state tournament trip. They play Smithville (29-7) Thursday.
Hughes was happy to survive Saturday’s sloppy Class 3A Region I Final with a win over top-ranked Stephenville in which his team struggled to make baskets.
“We shot poorly the other game,” he said. “We were 16 for 66 from the field. We were 5 for 34 in the first half. We were probably really lucky winning that game shooting that poorly.”
One for the thumb
Brock has become a basketball dynasty with four consecutive Class 2A state championships and seven girls titles overall.
This year Brock (33-5) makes a return trip to state without a vital part of those past title teams. Gone is Kamy Cole, a three-time state tournament MVP who is now a freshman on the TCU team.
Only two players - center Taylor Fulmer and Lexie Ducat - who made an impact during last year’s title run return for the Lady Eagles. Fulmer and Ducat each had a 10-point performance in Austin last year.
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