Keller’s ferocious comeback attempt in its first UIL state tournament appearance came up short as San Antonio Wagner advanced 56-44 in a Class 6A boys semifinal game on Friday night inside the Alamodome.
The Indians (33-3) trailed 41-29 to start the fourth quarter and got within 45-41 with 4:15 to go, but not any closer.
Wagner (36-2) will play Houston Cypress Falls (34-3) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the 6A title game. Cypress Falls beat Dallas Skyline 46-43 in triple overtime in the first semifinal.
Keller looked to have first-time jitters, hitting only 3 of 18 shots to start. Mixed with Wagner playing in front a home crowd — the school is 10 miles from the stadium — the Thunderbirds scored the first 11 points.
Wagner senior Tristan Clark, a 6-foot-9 post and a Baylor signee, banked in an easy layup and then added a two-handed dunk to make it 7-0. Another dunk gave the Thunderbirds a 17-7 lead after the first quarter.
Keller senior guard R.J. Nembhard, a TCU signee, limped off the court with 1:38 in the opening period, but returned early in the second. The injury seemed to be a factor all game, as he finished with just 15 points.
Clark was hit with his second personal foul and went to the bench with 5:13 in the half. The Indians used the advantage and got within 27-23 at the break. Nembhard made a pair of free throws late, and Keller got back-to-back layups by junior forward Carson Hughes. Wagner didn’t have a field goal for the final three minutes.
But the Thunderbirds started the second half with six straight points for a 33-23 lead. Clark picked up his fourth foul with 3:13 in the third, which opened a window for the Indians.
Hughes got Keller within 42-38, but Kevin McCullar answered for Wagner while Clark came back in and grabbed three huge defensive rebounds.
Preston Hannah scored 12 points for the Indians and Hughes added 11. Clark finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds.