An unprecedented four boys basketball teams – a first from the west side of the Metroplex – will be going to the 2017 UIL state tournament, which begins Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Class 6A Keller and 5A Justin Northwest make their first appearances. Class 5A Mansfield Timberview is back for the first time since 2009, and 3A Brock makes it for a fourth time in seven seasons.
“We’ve had pretty good basketball on this side of town,” Keller coach Randall Durant said. “Going to the state tournament is a special thing.”
While none of the Metroplex teams from last year – Fort Worth Dunbar, DeSoto, Lancaster and Dallas Lincoln – are back, Dallas Skyline, Argyle, Midlothian Heritage and Dallas Madison have qualified for state. Also Class 1A Lipan, which is 20 miles west of Brock, is going.
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“It represents the competitiveness in this area,” Arlington Martin coach Clint Schnell said. “The most interesting thing about basketball in the Metroplex is the different styles of play.”
Tarrant County hasn’t had a boys basketball champion since 2008, when North Crowley won in 5A and Kennedale won 3A.
“If you have been in this business for a long time, it’s competition, friendly competition, to try to see which area can win the most state titles,” North Crowley coach Tommy Brakel said. “The more teams that go, the more opportunity you get.”
Brock (29-8) will be the first area team up when the Eagles take on Jarrell at 3 p.m. Thursday. The Eagles won state titles in 2002, 2003 and 2015.
“I’ve been going to the state tournament for a long time,” Brock coach Zach Boxell said. “Even as a kid, the Metroplex has always had a good showing.”
Dallas football power Skyline is making its first trip to state in boys basketball. Midlothian Heritage is also making its first trip, while Argyle is going for the third time. Dallas Madison is making a ninth trip, and Lipan has qualified for the 10th time.
“I don’t think it’s rare – could be the start of a trend – but it’s just incredibly competitive,” Schnell said. “Arlington Bowie was one or two plays away from going and they were third in our district. I can’t speak a ton for the other teams, but there’s good basketball in this area for sure.”
Timberview (30-7) plays Corpus Chrisit Veterans Memorial, at 7 p.m. Thursday, while Northwest (32-5) versus Missouri City Marshall follows. Keller (33-2) faces San Antonio Wagner at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
“I’m happy for those guys,” said Brakel, who lost to Keller in the 6A region quarterfinals. “So many coaches in this business aren’t lucky to go to state. But they’re going and it’s a great opportunity.
Also in San Antonio, the 1967 Fort Worth teams from Class 4A I.M. Terrell and 3A Kirkpatrick will be honored for the 50th anniversary of their Prairie View Interscholastic League basketball titles earned during the days of school segregation.
Former Terrell and Dunbar coach Robert Hughes Sr., the winningest boys high school coach of all time, will be there. Kirkpatrick coach Lester J. Beene, 83, still lives in Fort Worth but will be unable to attend.
Kilpatrick players Charlie Copeland, Harvey Stafford, Nate Green, Mitchell Benson, Bobby Montgomery, Michael Burleson and James Abraham Montgomery are expected to attend.
“I’m an old man now,” said Beene, “but when I see my players recognized, that means a lot. At Kirkpatrick these guys had so much heart. They believed in what we were teaching them and they were just fighters.”