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Column: Hooks was second-best in 3A in state tournament

by Rick Thomas, Texarkana Gazette | March 12, 2023 at 11:51 p.m. | Updated March 14, 2023 at 12:50 p.m.
Hooks' Jatavious Johnson (11) shoots a short jumper in front of a Hitchcock defender during a Class 3A state semifinal basketball game. (Photo courtesy of Texarkana Gameday)

I may be climbing out a limb -- I've definitely done that before -- but I believe the Hooks Hornets boys basketball team was the second-best in Class 3A this season.

Number 2.

Everyone I've talked to says state champion Hitchcock, ranked No. 2 in the final poll, was head-and-shoulders above the other three teams, including Hooks.

And unfortunately, the Hornets (32-6) caught the feisty Bulldogs (31-7) in the semifinals and not the finals.

"It would have been nice to open up the state tournament with Lytle or Childress to see how we matched up," said Hornets head basketball coach Michael Jackson. "Unfortunately, that wasn't possible and things played out the way they did."

"Hooks had the second-best team in Class 3A," said Morgan Smith of Texarkana Gameday, who witnessed the state tournament in San Antonio's Alamodome. "They could have beaten the other two teams (Childress and Lyrtle)."

Hitchcock defeated Hooks, 69-36, in the semifinals and then beat Childress, 68-45, in Saturday's championship game.

The pairings for the state tournament are based on records. The teams going to state with the two best records -- in this case Lytle (34-5) and Hooks (32-5) -- were matched against the teams with lesser records, Hitchcock (29-7) and Childress (27-7). Lytle had the best record percentage-wise at .871 and the Hornets were second at .864.

Hooks reached its first state tournament and had its most successful season in school history.

"There are two things I will always remember from this season," Jackson said. "One, was the grit and fight that our players showed throughout the playoffs. The other is the amazing support we received from the Hooks community."

Jackson has already achieved a state basketball championship in Texas, guiding Terry High School of the Houston area, to a Class 4A championship when 5A was the state's biggest classification.

And what's the formula for winning a title in the Lone Star State?

"Well, the most important ingredient is talent," Jackson said. "Without that you don't have a chance.

"Once you have the talent then you need length and toughness to play great defense. All of the state champions in every division played great defense. Then you need a little luck."

The Hornets finished in the Final Four of 3A schools this year, even though they weren't ranked in the top 25 for most of the season.

"I'm just really proud to be a Hooks Hornet. I'm proud of our players, the administration, our staff, our parents, and the whole community," Jackson said. "Accomplishments like this are a team effort and everyone did their part. It's exciting to be a part of that."

All the state championship games were held Saturday. In case you missed the finals, here are the scores:

6A, Richardson Lake Highlands 55, Beaumont United 44; 5A, Dallas Kimball 69, Killeen Ellison 48; 4A, Dallas Oak Cliff Faith Family 70, Houston Washington 56; 2A, Lipan 50, LaRue Poynor 46; and 1A, Graford 49, Jayton 44 (OT).

Fouke girls lost to champs

Fouke's girls also posted one of its most successful seasons this year, going 34-5 in reaching the Elite Eight of the Class 3A state basketball tournament.

The Lady Panthers, under the leadership of coach Mo Williams, had the misfortune of drawing eventual state champion Salem in the second round and dropped a 67-41 decision to the Greyhounds.

Salem defeated Lamar, 56-36, in Saturday's state championship game.

Nashville was gunning for its second straight Class 4A crown, the Scrapperettes dropped a 65-61 decision to Farmington, which had finished runner-up last year.

Nashville closed out the season at 29-4 while Farmington finished with a 36-1 record.

And speaking of amazing records, Mount Pleasant, Texas, racked up unbeaten streaks totaling 70 games this season.

The Lady Tigers were 36-0 and the Tigers 30-0 before both teams lost on the same night.

Mount Pleasant's girls, coached by Tina Carrillo, advanced four rounds into the playoffs before losing and the Tiger boys, coached by Joey Chism, were eliminated in the second round.

Still, a combined record of 70-2 is amazing.

Dorsett wins 800 meters

Texas A&M University-Texarkana's track star Charles Dorsett III continued his outstanding 2022-23 season with a first-place finish in the men's 800 meters during the Texas-Arlington Invitational track and field meet Friday at Maverick Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Dorsett clocked the fastest time of all competitors in the event, taking the top spot with a time of 1:49.77, which qualifies him for the outdoor national meet in May at Indiana Wesleyan University.

He finished a full second ahead of the second-place finisher and two seconds in front of third. Dorsett is scheduled to compete Friday at the Ice Breaker Open at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Dorsett placed ninth in the 800 meters and failed to qualify for the finals in the recent NAIA Indoor championships in South Dakota.

Tigersharks won regional

Texas High's Tigersharks swimming and diving team enjoyed a very successful year under coach Eric Vogan.

The Tigersharks continued to dominate the District 15-5A dive and swim meet title and then won the boys regional championship.

Texas High's Cade Cunningham was named the 2023 district diver of the year, Helen Chen was named district girls swimmer of the year, and Tiger Eli Likins was named district boys swimming of the year.

At the state meet in Austin, Eli Likins placed fifth in the 100-yard backstroke (51.20) and seventh in the 100-yard freestyle (46.38). Texas High's foursome of Max Likins, Orena Gyle, Eli Likins and Owen Young placed eighth with a 1:39.24 clocking.

Cunningham finished 14th in the 1-meter diving, totaling 276.55 points.

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