From the moment Fort Worth Dunbar arrived at the Western Texas College Coliseum, the Wildcats improved in every single quarter.
A sluggish start in Friday’s semifinal game was anything but that Saturday when Dunbar throttled Wichita Falls Rider 95-62 in the Class 5A Region I final.
We haven’t been there in so long and we wanted to do this.
Dunbar guard Logan Ray, who scored 29 points, on the first trip to state since 2007
The Wildcats (23-11) return to the UIL state tournament for the first time since 2007 and their 14th state appearance. Dunbar, which last won a state title in 2006, will play at the Alamodome in San Antonio in the 5A state semifinals on Thursday, either at 7 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.
“It means a lot, especially to the fans. We haven’t been there in so long and we wanted to do this,” said senior guard Logan Ray, who finished with a game-high 29 points.
On Friday against El Paso Burges, the Wildcats made just 5 of 25 field goals in the first half and trailed by as many as 14 points before rallying for a 62-53 semifinal win.
But like Friday, the second and third quarters Saturday set the tone for Dunbar and for Rider (24-11).
“Biggest difference was the ‘want to’ win, we knew we wanted to get there,” said Ray, who was named tournament MVP.
Leading by five after one quarter, the Wildcats outscored the Raiders 33-11 in the second and by 30 points over the second and third quarters. At one point, Dunbar led 83-42.
“I knew they were going to knock some shots down today. I didn’t know it would be by this much,” coach Robert Hughes Jr. said.
Ray’s 3-pointer gave Dunbar a 33-19 lead with 3:22 left in the first half. The basket gave him 17 points, matching his total from Friday. He shot 11 of 21 from the field.
Rider had no answer for Dunbar’s defense after a comeback win Friday against El Paso Andress. Dunbar, which scored 26 points off 21 turnovers on Friday, on Saturday outscored Rider 33-8 on points off turnovers and 38-20 on points inside the paint.
The Raiders committed 24 turnovers to Dunbar’s 10.
Coach told us Rider couldn’t keep up with us running, so we kept the pressure up.
Dunbar guard Jerred Fields, who hit 7 of 11 shots for 17 points
Wildcats junior guard Jerred Fields got several second-chance opportunities. He finished with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting and nine rebounds, five of which were offensive rebounds. Fields and senior Quinton Brigham made the all-tournament team.
“Coach told us Rider couldn’t keep up with us running, so we kept the pressure up,” Fields said.
“Jerred Fields is someone that’s going to leave it all out on the floor every game,” Hughes said. “We aren’t going to make it without him, he’s the backbone of the team.”
9 3-pointers Saturday for Dunbar after going 1 for 10 on Friday against El Paso Burges
Dunbar shot 47 percent as a team and made nine 3-pointers, well above its Friday total against El Paso Burges (1 of 10).
Brigham added 15 points and junior Kobe Hill hit four 3-pointers. The Wildcats held Rider’s leading scorer, T.J. Vasher, to 13 points. He scored 26 points in the semifinal.
“We knew they were a weak rebounding team so Coach kept pressuring us about rebounds,” Brigham said.
The Raiders enjoyed their best season in program history.