It might be hard to call Denton Guyer an upstart. The team is ranked No. 1 in the state by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches and boasts a record of 36-1.
But for a program that has never advanced beyond the second round of the postseason, Friday night’s playoff game was more than just the next game. It would require knocking out one the area heavyweights.
DeSoto, ranked No. 6 in the state, has two state tournament appearances in the past five years, including a state title in 2016. Guyer has faced tough opponents this season, but not this opponent; not in this circumstance.
“It’s Denton Guyer and DeSoto, the No. 1 and No. 6 team in the state. We knew it was going to be like that. We knew it was going to be a close game,” said Guyer junior guard De’Vion Harmon, an OU commit, following his team’s dramatic 48-45 victory.
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Harmon’s drive and bucket with 1:22 remaining was the final margin, and the first step into unchartered territory for the Guyer basketball program.
Le’Tre Darthard, one of five Denton Guyer seniors, insists his team didn’t feel the weight of the matchup, which packed the Arlington Lamar gymnasium to the gills, leaving some fans without a seat.
“We didn’t feel any pressure,” he said. “We just knew we had to come out here and get the W.”
The game, which featured at least six future Division I college players, was as advertised. The largest lead by either team throughout was seven points, early in the fourth. It was tied at 45 with 2:48 left. A desperation shot by DeSoto (25-9) in the final seconds was off the mark, and Guyer had overcome its toughest challenge to date.
“We came in with the mindset to be the best team,” junior four-star recruit Jalen Wilson said. “They’ve been dominating in recent years around here in 6A basketball, so it was our mindset to come in here and show them why we’re the best team in 6A.”
After this weekend, there will be 32 teams left in the Texas 6A UIL state playoffs. It’s hard to argue DeSoto shouldn’t be one of them, but that’s the reality of some early-round matchups. Seniors Feron Hunt and Jahmar Young are both signed to play at SMU next year.
There won’t be many, if any, high school basketball games the rest of this season with the athleticism and talent that gathered on the floor at Lamar Friday night, but Guyer already understands that even though this was more than just the next game, it was indeed the next game.
“We check this game off, this game is over with,” Wilson said. “It’s on to round three and we’ve got a new team to worry about.”