Fort Worth Dunbar’s quest for a fourth UIL boys state basketball title is just two wins away, but standing in the Wildcats’ way is the No. 1 team in Class 5A.
Dunbar (23-11), which didn’t make the final coaches’ association regular-season top-10 state ranking, meets top-ranked Fort Bend Elkins (35-2) at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio in a 5A state semifinal.
“It’s time to show San Antonio what the Flying Wildcats are all about,” Dunbar coach Robert Hughes Jr. said.
Seniors guards Logan Ray and Quinton Brigham highlight this season’s team, which is trying to win its first championship since 2006, a title the Wildcats were awarded in 2008 after Dallas South Oak Cliff was stripped of the title for using an ineligible player.
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Ray averaged 23 points in last week’s 5A Region I tournament in Snyder, including a game-high 29 points against Wichita Falls Rider in the final.
We’re going down there to win.
Dunbar coach Robert Hughes Jr.
“I know that is a fast-paced team and that they can shoot well,” Ray said of Elkins. “Coach is really stressing on being in shape and ready to run for the whole 32 minutes.”
Elkins made its first regional final since 2002, and defeated Beaumont Ozen 67-65. Four players scored in double figures, led by Chad Bowie with 18 points. The senior has averaged a team-high 11.7 points a game.
The Knights sport a team field-goal percentage of 47.1 percent, and they score 75.8 points a game. The defense has limited opponents 51.3 points a game.
“We heard they’re fast like us and can shoot,” Brigham said. “Coach keeps telling us that they’re good competition and that we need to play sound defense.”
Brigham averaged 17 points in Snyder. In the regional semifinals against El Paso Burges, he grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds.
Collecting rebounds is crucial. The Wildcats had 45 against Rider, which included 21 offensive rebounds. Elkins finished with only 21 total rebounds against Ozen. The Knights average 29.1 a game.
“This week, we’re stressing defense, playing smart and getting rebounds,” Brigham said.
The Knights’ only losses came against The Woodlands in November and a 61-60 stumble in district to No. 2-ranked Fort Bend Bush on Jan. 22.
We have normal guys that work hard every day. We’re a blue-collar team.
Robert Hughes Jr.
Dunbar isn’t concerned with rankings, records, or its underdog status. The Wildcats, with an enrollment meant for Class 4A but playing up in classification, squared off against teams such as 6A state-qualifier DeSoto and 6A regional quarterfinalist North Crowley.
“We made it this far, we’re just as good and rankings don’t mean anything to us because at this point, everybody is good,” Brigham said.
Said Hughes: “We played the toughest schedule in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We started off with DeSoto and all these tough teams so our record won’t be 35-1. We have normal guys that work hard every day. We’re a blue-collar team.”
Dunbar is averaging 75.2 points a game and allowing 60. Elkins is scoring 75.8 and allowing 51.3.
Already playing a high-tempo offense, Dunbar has stepped it up in the playoffs, both in scoring and in assists. Junior guard Kobe Hill finished the regular season with an area-leading 5.8 assists a game.
Hill had a game-high six assists against Rider as the Wildcats made 22 of 36 field goals. In the postseason, Dunbar is averaging 75.2 points a game while allowing 60.
“We picked up the offense just by picking up our defense,” Brigham said. “And we know that this could be our last game, so we’re going to play as hard as we can.”
That style resulted in 20 steals last weekend in Snyder.
“The way we play is going to be full of action because of the way we press,” Hughes said. “We’re going down there to win.”