Kennedale rolls into Austin looking for perfect finish

Posted Tuesday, Mar. 04, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Kennedale (38-0)

Did you know? The Wildcats defeated Brock five times this season. Team FG is 49.5 percent on 1,045-of-2,111 shooting. Free throws: 434 of 686, 63.2 percent.

Road to Austin: Iowa Park 82-47, Llano 91-35, Burkburnett 86-74, Shallowater 87-82 (OT), Stephenville 70-39

Scoring leaders: Aundre Jackson, 309 of 413, 19.6 avg; Ty Charles, 207 of 352, 15.5 avg; V.J. Hughes, 154 of 364, 13.4 avg; Kelon Doss, 110 of 268, 8.7 avg

Rebounding leaders: Charles, 307, 8.8 avg; Jackson, 259, 7.4 avg; Hughes 173, 4.9 avg

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The only unbeaten team in UIL boys basketball this season needs two more wins to cap an effort that even its 2008 state title squad didn’t achieve.

Kennedale, 38-0 this season, was 33-5 when it knocked off Burkburnett six years ago for the Class 3A crown. But don’t ask Kennedale coach Doug Groff to compare the two.

“That’s like asking me to compare my two kids,” he said. “ … But I will tell you they are two totally different teams with different styles.”

It’s an up-tempo and more balanced Wildcats team that meets Houston Yates (23-8) in a Class 3A state semifinal at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Erwin Center in Austin.

Dallas Madison (28-3) will face San Antonio Houston (27-9) in the other semifinal at 1:30 p.m.

It will be Kennedale’s second appearance at the state tournament, and perhaps a second state title looms.

But even that fact doesn’t seem to give Groff much change in his or his team’s demeanor.

“Not sure what all this means yet,” he said. “ … It’s really a moment-to-moment thing. You just kind of have to stay self-contained.”

They’re moments, though, that Kennedale has managed well this year.

Just last week, forward Ty Charles pulled up with an ankle injury in the first half of the Wildcats’ regional quarterfinal playoff.

Charles, a Stephen F. Austin signee and the team’s second-leading scorer, was forced out of Friday’s regional semifinal. Without him, Kennedale needed overtime to edge Shallowater and advance.

Charles was able to contribute Saturday in a 70-39 regional final win over Stephenville, scoring 12 points.

“Honestly, it’s one of those situations where our trainer is an absolute miracle worker,” Groff said. “He worked with Ty all week on it, and he actually practiced Thursday. But we just felt like Friday wasn’t the night, and by Saturday, we knew he couldn’t injure it any further, so we let him get out on the floor.”

Groff said he can’t imagine Charles, who’s been a 59 percent shooter from the floor and averages 15.5 points per game this season, wouldn’t play Thursday.

Still, managing the injury for a player that produces like that falls to others on the team.

“We had to have kids pick up that scoring slack, and they did,” Groff said. “But it’s been like that all year, and it’s exactly like you hear about all the time — for a team to do this, you have to be consistent, and you have to have some luck as well.”

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