- By Thomas Jones American-Statesman Staff
WESTLAKE’S FELLOW CLASS 6A SEMIFINALISTS
Westlake has long boasted one of the top athletic programs in the state, having won a UIL state championship in nine team sports and have qualified for state in every other one at the school — excluding boys basketball. That changed this season as the Chaparrals continue their best stretch in the sport in school history.
Fourth-year coach Robert Lucero, who also spent one season as the head coach at Hays, has led Westlake to three consecutive berths in the Class 6A regional finals. Before this run, the Chaps had played in only one regional final.
With a starting lineup that includes four players who stand at least 6 feet, 5 inches, Westlake has both size and speed. The Chaps average 73.2 points per game and like to get out on the break, but they’re equally adept at pounding the ball inside to 6-11 junior Will Baker and 6-6 Brock Cunningham. Matthew Mayer, a 6-7 wing, and 6-5 guard Keonte Kennedy team with 6-1 point guard Luke Pluymen to form arguably the best lineup in the state.
Now, a closer look at the Chaps’ fellow state semifinalists:
Coach: Jeffrey McCullough
State tournament appearances: 2 (2014, ‘18)
Distance from the Alamodome: 301 miles
Famous folks: A prep football powerhouse that has won four state titles, Allen has groomed such NFL players as Uzoma Nwachukwu, Steven Terrell and Cedric Ogbuehi. … Model, actress and comedian Julie McCullough garnered fame in the 1980s on “Growing Pains.”
About the Eagles: After two losses to top-ranked Denton Guyer during the regular season, Allen knocked off Guyer 40-36 in the Region I finals behind a strategy that may look familiar to Westlake fans. Just as South San Antonio did against the Chaps in the regional semifinals, Allen held the ball and milked the clock against Guyer, which handed Westlake two of its three losses this season. … Behind 6-2 senior guard Jerritt Dixon and 6-5 senior forward Jaylon Scott, Allen usually prefers a fast tempo. The Eagles have scored at least 80 points eight times this season, but they have averaged just 63.2 points a game in the postseason.
• Katy Tompkins
Coach: Bobby Sanders
State tournament appearances: 1 (2018)
Distance from the Alamodome: 172 miles
Famous folks: Tompkins, which opened in 2013, already boasts a touted theater department. The city of Katy has a history of producing talented actors, including Renée Zellweger of “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and Renee O’Connor of “Xena: Warrior Princess.”
About the Falcons: Like Westlake, Tompkins is enjoying the best season in school history while becoming the first team from the Katy school district to reach the boys state tournament. … The Falcons boast two college signees in 6-5 guard Jamal Bieniemy (Oklahoma) and 6-8 forward Kristian Sjolund (Georgia Tech), but unsigned guard C.J. Washington led the team with 20 points in a 60-43 victory over Alief Taylor in the 6A, Region III final. … Tompkins has won two playoffs games by just two points. In a 61-59 victory over Fort Bend Bush, Tompkins’ Eden Holt made two free throws with 1.1 seconds to play after a controversial foul call on a three-point attempt.
• South Garland
Coach: Dominique Parker
State tournament appearances: 1 (2018)
Distance to the Alamodome: 289 miles
Famous folks: Hit songwriter and Grammy winner Gary Nicholson attended South Garland as did former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Quincy Morgan.
About the Colonels: Junior Tyrese Maxey, a 6-2 guard who averages 22 points and seven rebounds a game, is a five-star recruit. He and Westlake’s Baker are the top-two players in the state in of the Class of 2019, according to texashoops.com. … Chris Harris Jr., a 6-4 junior point guard and the nephew of former Texas Longhorns women’s basketball standout Fran Harris teams with Maxey to create a formidable backcourt. Harris has averaged 19 points a game, and he and Maxey have combined to sink more than 10 three-pointers a contest. … Forward Dearon Tucker scored 17 points in a 65-50 victory over Dallas Jesuit in the 6A, Region II championship game.
— Thomas Jones