Amarillo High’s quest for a state championship bid falls short in San Angelo


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Amarillo High’s Cade Hornecker, top, and Owen Boyett sit stunned after the Sandies fell, 60-56, in overtime to Dallas Kimball in a Class 5A state semifinal at the Junell Center in San Angelo on Tuesday. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]

SAN ANGELO— The Amarillo High Sandies checked into Heartbreak Hotel Tuesday night.

The Sandies bid to reach the boys basketball state championship game for third time in 35 years, fell a tad short in an intense Texas Class 5A state semifinal 60-56 loss to Dallas Kimball at the Junell Center on the Angelo State campus.

Kimball outscored AHS 10-6 in the overtime period, the clincher a 3-pointer in the corner by Deonte Greer with under a minute to play, followed by two free throws from Chauncey Gibson in the final seconds.

AHS did lead early in the overtime as AHS senior Chris Dees opened the extra period sinking a pair of free throws for a 52-50 lead.

But AHS was unable to hit shots late despite a clutch steal from Dees, who saw his 3-pointer from the closing seconds after his hustle play hit rim with AHS down 58-56 and 14 seconds remaining.

The win continued Dallas Kimball’s surprising run through the playoffs and its second consecutive overtime win.

Kimball (18-10 overall) will meet undefeated Beaumont United (30-0) in the 5A state championship game at 7 p.m. Friday in San Antonio’s Alamodome. United dropped Glenn early on Tuesday, 82-57, in the other 5A semifinal.

Amarillo High’s impressive season, where it was ranked in the top 10 from day one and third Sandie team to reach the state semifinals in 35 years, ends at 25-4.

AHS was so impressive throughout the playoffs holding opponents to 26, 28, 34, 34 and 51 points in its five wins before Tuesday night.

And that continued for the Sandies part of Tuesday against Kimball controlling the tempo and score in the first half leading 27-20 at intermission.

The loss was emotional for the AHS players, with three seniors playing their final game in Owen Boyett (four points), Slade Simpson and Chris Dees (10 points).

Veteran AHS coach Jason Pillion, who led the Sandies to the state championship game in 2014 ending in a loss to Kimball, didn’t mince words over the passion he has for his 2020-21 team.

“It didn’t go our way tonight,” Pillion said. “The message I gave our players in the locker room was don’t allow the rest of your life with the pain you feel from losing someone or something to affect the willingness to give your heart to something you love.

“And I’m not talking basketball. These guys love each other and they play for each other. That’s why it hurts so bad right now. They took us on a ride of a lifetime.”

Kimball saw three players proved its offensive punch led by 6-foot-6 junior Chauncey Gibson’s 16 points, Division I prospect and 6-4 junior guard Arterio Morris’ 12 points, while 6-6 junior wing Kyron Henderson’s 15.

Morris said after the game “I came back from California for a reason. This is why I came back.” California is where he spent time at a private school returning to Kimball before the season started.

Kimball coach Nicke Smith said a lot of people don’t know the story of adversity his team overcame this year “and this game came down to effort and making shots. I told our guys this wasn’t by chance or by coincidence we were here. That’s what I told them in the lockerroom I wasn’t going to let them lose this game.

“We made adjustments at half. Jason (Pillion) is a great. He’s an awesome coach. He has so much in his arsenal watching him on tape. We made adjustments and played some defense.”

Amarillo High’s Damonze Woods goes up for a shot against Dallas Kimball on Tuesday. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]Amarillo High placed four scorers in doubles figures led by 6-11 junior Cade Hornecker’s 13 points and followed by 12 each from juniors Brendan Hausen (all points by way of 3-pointers) and Damonze Woods (started on fire scoring eight of his points in the first quarter) and 10 by Dees.

Hausen said he and his underclassmen teammates so wanted to get the three Sandies seniors a state championship.

“This hurts,” said Hausen, who returned to the Sandie bench about a half hour after the game and sat alone. “If people knew how much we put into this. So it’s an empty feeling. We gave everything we had, obviously we can’t play a perfect game and we’d do anything to go back (and correct things).

“But man, I’m so happy. It gives me tears. Those are brothers are life. I wouldn’t want to do this with any other guys, or any other fans, or any other city. My seniors, thank you. Thank you. That was a helluva ride.”

STUFF: This game saw some craziness go on. A cellphone came flying out of the stands and on the floor in the first half landing near the Amarillo High bench. One of the officials picked up the phone and brought it over to the scorer’s table. The phone was returned to a Kimball fan and the conversation heard by yours truly was that the woman the phone was returned said she tossed it in the air out of excitement and the phone landed on the court. Hmmm? . … Late in the game Kimball senior guard Jayden Blair was inbounding under his own basket endline and as his five seconds allowed to get the ball inbounded was expiring he fired the ball off the groin of AHS’ closest defender 6-11 Cade Hornecker. Hornecker tumbled backwards and fell to the floor as the ball returned toward Blair and out of bounds. There was no whistle on the play.

Class 5A

State Semifinal

At Junell Center, San Angelo

Dallas Kimball 60, Amarillo High 56 (OT)

Amarillo High (25-4): Owen Boyett 0 4-4 4, Slade Simpson 0 0-0 0, Xa Landry-Britton 2 0-0 5, CJ Nickerson 0 0-1 0, Brenden Hausen 4 0-0 12, Cade Hornecker 6 0-0 13, Damonze Woods 6 0-1 12, Chris Dees 3 3-4 10. Totals: 21 7-10 56.

Dallas Kimball (18-10): Jayden Blair 1 2-2 4, Srterio Morris 4 3-4 12, Chauncey Gibson 4 2-2 16, Kyron Henderson 7 0-0 15, Deonte Greer 1 0-0 3, Ronald Gustus 2 2-2 6, Jequalen Parks 1 0-0 2. Aydan Blair 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 9-10 60.

Amarillo High 14 13 13 10 6 – 56

Dallas Kimball 8 12 18 12 10 – 60

3-point goals: Amarillo High 7 (Hausen 4, Landry-Britton 1, Hornecker 1, Dees 1); Dallas Kimball 6 (Gibson 3, Morris 1, Henderson 1, Greer 1). Total fouls: Amarillo High 13, Dallas Kimball . Fouled out: Henderson. Technicals: None.

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