Defending champions and first-time entrants will share the stage this week at the University Interscholastic League’s annual boys basketball tournament.
Two of the state tournament’s 24 entrants — Dallas Kimball and White Oak — won state championships in 2012. Eight of those 24 teams will also be making their first appearances at the state tournament.
One of the newcomers will be San Antonio Brennan, which is traveling to Austin a week after its girls basketball team made its debut at the state tournament. Awaiting the Bears in a Class 4A semifinal game on Thursday night will be Dallas Kimball, the Class 4A champion in 2011 and 2012.
San Antonio Brennan has compiled a 39-2 record this season. The Bears also top the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ Class 4A poll.
A third-year varsity program, the Bears reached the bi-district round of the Class 4A playoffs in 2011. They were regional semifinalists in 2012.
“We’ve had the same core group for all three years, so with those pieces getting older and getting more experience, there was a bright future for us,” San Antonio Brennan senior guard John Azzinaro said last week. “It was only a matter of time for it to merge.”
San Antonio Brennan has not lost since a 78-63 letdown against Friendswood on Dec. 7. The Bears have won 24 straight games, and in the area and regional quarterfinal rounds of the Class 4A playoffs, San Antonio Brennan posted 75-54 and 76-55 victories over Cedar Park and LBJ.
The Bears’ Thursday opponent, Dallas Kimball, is led by senior guard Keith Frazier. He is a McDonald’s All-American who has drawn scholarship offers from schools such as Arizona, Florida and Texas.
Frazier will be one of many big names at the Erwin Center.
Azzinaro (Bucknell), South Grand Prairie guard Ben Emelogu (Virginia Tech) and Richardson Berkner forward Soma Edo (Fresno State) have all signed with collegiate basketball programs. On Friday night, Edo and four-star recruit Kendal Harris will lead Richardson Berkner against a Fort Bend Travis team that features Aaron and Andrew Harrison, twin brothers who have pledged to Kentucky’s basketball program.
But while the state tournament will boast plenty of talent, none of those players will hail from the Austin area.
For the second straight year, this area will not have a representative at the state tournament. Anderson and Georgetown both played in regional championship games this past weekend, but neither team could secure a victory.
“We had the goal of getting to the state tournament, so everyone’s pretty down right now,” Anderson senior Rasmus Bach said after a 66-52 loss to Richardson Berkner. “But it happens. I feel like this is one of the best teams we’ve ever had.”
UIL boys basketball tournament
Thursday-Saturday, Erwin Center
Tickets: $12 for single session. All-tournament passes cost $100 for a lower-level seat, $60 for an upper-level one.
Class 1A Division I Semifinals
8:30 a.m. — El Paso Harmony (26-3) vs. Dallas Triple A Academy (26-5)
10 a.m. — Mumford (38-0) vs. San Augustine (23-6)
Class 3A Semifinals
1:30 p.m. — Abilene Wylie (34-4) vs. Dallas Madison (30-4)
3 p.m. — Houston Yates (31-4) vs. Royal (29-9)
Class 4A Semifinals
7 p.m. — Rosenberg Terry (29-9) vs. Fort Worth Arlington Heights (23-10)
8:30 p.m. — San Antonio Brennan (39-2) vs. Dallas Kimball (22-9)
Class 2A Semifinals
8:30 a.m. — White Oak (35-1) vs. Winnie East Chambers (26-9)
10 a.m. — Idalou (34-3) vs. Brock (31-6)
Class 1A Division II Semifinals
1:30 p.m. — Roxton (28-4) vs. Texline (28-6)
7 p.m. — Water Valley (33-2) vs. Douglass (29-6)
Class 5A Semifinals
3 p.m. — South Grand Prairie (36-3) vs. Cibolo Steele (25-12)
8:30 p.m. — Richardson Berkner (33-5) vs. Fort Bend Travis (31-5)
8:30 a.m. — Class 1A Division I final
10 a.m. — Class 3A final
1:30 p.m. — Class 2A final
3 p.m. — Class 4A final
7 p.m. — Class 1A Division II final
8:30 p.m. — Class 5A final