Boys’ basketball take on state’s best in Region II semifinal

Th boys

Halle Barham

Th boys’

The boys’ basketball team will take on top ranked Lancaster Friday in hopes of advancing to the Regional II final and getting one step closer to the Alamodome.

After defeating Centennial 41-35 Tuesday night, the boys look to continue their historic season. Ever since the 62-52 loss the team suffered against the Tigers in the Dallas ISD Coca-Cola Tournament Semifinal, the opportunity to have a rematch against Lancaster has been on the team’s mind for a while.

“Ever since the beginning of last season’s playoffs, it was our goal to get to play them,” senior Cameron Kurak said.

Boys basketball dunk
Ranked as the number one recruit in Texas for the class of 2018, sophomore Reggie Chaney Chaney averaged 13.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game during the regular season and exploded for 26 points against Rockwall-Heath in the second round of the playoffs.

The Tigers come into the matchup with a 32-2 record, undefeated in district play and riding a 27 game winning streak. Their only two losses have come to Top 5A school Fort Bend Bush and undefeated 6A #1 Atascocita. Lancaster also has many highly touted players, such as Nate Morris and Jacolby Pemberton, who have each committed to Ole Miss and Louisiana Tech respectively.

“They’re a really good team,” head coach Marcus Eckert said. “They’re defending state champions, are very athletic, and have a good core group of seniors who have a lot of experience and are going to play high division one basketball.”

For the first time in the playoffs, the boys’ are an underdog, as the Tigers have been predicted to advance out of the Region 2 Bracket and into the state tournament.

“We want to be the underdog,” Eckert said. “This takes the pressure off of us. We’re not supposed to win. It’s a win-win situation. When we win, it’ll be great, and we will prove everyone wrong. If for some crazy reason they play awesome and beat us, we weren’t supposed to beat them. I don’t think for one second our kids think that we are the underdog.”

Free throws played a key part in the December loss, as Lancaster made 31 of 36 from the charity stripe, while the team struggled, not capitalizing on the points.

The boys' basketball team is confident heading into Friday's Region II semifinal against Lancaster, a team they lost to in December.
Halle Barham
The boys’ basketball team is confident heading into Friday’s Region II semifinal against Lancaster, a team they lost to in December.

“Our gameplan is really simple,” Eckert said. It’s going to be based on matchups and personnel, and we think we have a plan that will limit their good shot opportunities. Keeping them off the glass will be huge, because they score a lot of their points off of offensive boards. Lastly, is not allowing them to get to the foul line, because they are a great free throw shooting team.”

However, the team is ready to make some noise and defeat the defending state champions.

“I think as a team, we’ve never been more excited to play anyone,” senior Bradley Saad said.

“I feel like it’s a perfect storm,” Eckert said. “This is their destiny. This is how it’s supposed to be. You couldn’t have written a script any better. From winning the Garland Invitational two years in a row, going undefeated at the Curtis Culwell Center, losing to Lancaster in the [Dallas ISD Coca-Cola Tournament] semifinal, but more importantly realizing that we’re better than they are, and matching up against them again when everyone thinks they will beat us. It could not be a better script, and we will fulfill it.”