LUBBOCK — Kennedale, the No. 3 Class 3A team in the state, fell to No. 5 Abilene Wylie 64-55 Friday in the 3A Region I semifinals at United Spirit Arena.
Wylie senior guard Duane Hopper’s 25 points led the Bulldogs (33-4) to a victory in spite of a late push in the fourth quarter by Kennedale.
The Wildcats (33-3) averaged nearly 88 points per game entering the semifinal matchup, and Wylie coach Russell Perkins attributed the victory to Wylie’s ability to fully commit themselves on the defensive side of the ball.
“We just wanted a game in the 50s,” Perkins said. “We thought if we got it to a possession-by-possession game, then maybe we could get some good things to happen for us.
“The difference tonight, our zone really bothered them a little bit, gave them some trouble. Once we started rebounding the ball, things got better. As long as we rebounded and limited them to one shot, we had a chance.”
Kennedale opened the game on a tear with junior guard Ty Charles scoring eight of the Wildcats’ first 15 points. The Wildcats were led in scoring by junior forward Aundre Jackson, who scored 19 points in the losing effort.
Abilene Wylie used an 18-7 run in the second quarter to put them in front to stay.
Kennedale coach Doug Groff said the credit for Wylie’s victory has to go to its coach.
“When you play a team like Wylie and you get behind, it’s hard to catch back up,” Groff said. “Their size is big — they knocked down some big shots — they knew we were going to trap them and they did a great job of spacing the side and putting cutters where they need to be, and that’s because coach Perkins is a great coach. You can’t fool great coaches for long.”
Hopper began the fourth quarter with his own 5-0 run to create space between Wylie and Kennedale, a gap which the Wildcats were unable to close.
Wylie will face Wichita Falls Hirschi in the Class 3A Region I final at 8 p.m. Saturday at United Spirit Arena.
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