Sports

Chapter 2: Basketball

EL PASO, TEXAS - ========================================

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Football may be “King” in Texas but basketball has always been the sport of choice in El Paso. Maybe this is because El Paso fans have suffered through many losing seasons with UTEP or because Texas Western College, now UTEP, won the NCAA basketball championship in 1966.

Basketball was popular in El Paso even before the Miners shocked the nation by beating Kentucky 72-65. I can remember my father taking the family to Austin, Texas to see El Paso High play in the state basketball tournament in 1965. I’ll talk more about that tournament later in this chapter.

El Paso schools have always held their own with the rest of Texas when it comes to playing in the state playoffs. Four schools, El Paso High, Eastwood, Faith Christian, and Cathedral have won championships which I will soon write about. Several other schools have placed in the final 16, or final 8, and even the final 4 of the state playoffs. I have searched the annual records for both boys and girls basketball to see how El Paso teams have done. 

I have tried to be thorough and I hope that I have included every El Paso team that has finished at least in the final 16 of the annual state tournament. Some of the records that I have studied are not complete and the basketball tournament has changed formats several times since the boys started competition in 1921 and the girls in 1950.

My primary sources, unless otherwise noted, are the University Interscholastic League (UIL) at uiltex.org and Texas Almanac texasalmanac.com.

2017 Basketball Update

El Paso area high schools continued the trend of doing very well in the state playoffs in both boys' and girls' basketball. The top boys teams in the area were Americas, Andress, Burges, and Anthony. The top girls teams were Franklin, Eastwood, Andress, and Burges. Faith Christian Academy won another TCAL 3A boys state championship while ITEC Prep Academy won TCAL 2A state championships in both boys and girls basketball. The top moment of the season may have come on February 10th when Cathedral High School defeated ITEC Prep Academy 47-33 and gave long time El Paso area coach, Tony Harper his 1000th victory. Coach Harper is one of the few coaches in the country to achieve that milestone. The following is a recap of the 2016-2017 season:

6A Boys Basketball
Americas, El Dorado, Coronado, and Pebble Hills were the area's playoff representatives in the state 6A playoffs. Americas had a great season going 33-3 and 15-1 in district. The Trail Blazers won their first 10 games before losing to Odessa High 50-44 in overtime. Americas only suffered one other regular season loss during the year when they dropped another overtime loss to El Dorado 41-40. The Trail Blazers only other loss was to Arlington Bowie 48-42 in the Regional Quarter Finals. Americas won a Bi-District contest against Midland 71-47 and an Area matchup against Arlington Martin 44-37. The Trail Blazers' season came to an end with the aforementioned loss to Arlington Bowie. The El Paso area's other 6A teams all lost their Bi-District contests. El Dorado was defeated by Frenship 49-41; Coronado lost to Permian 54-42; and Pebble Hills was beaten by Amarillo Tascosa 72-67.

5A Boys Basketball
Andress, Burges, Bowie, and Chapin were the top 4 finishers in the District 1-5A race while Del Valle, Horizon, Hanks, and Canutillo took the top 4 spots in District 2-5A. Bi-District action saw Andress defeat Canutillo 70-46, Chapin beat Del Valle 66-33, Burges ousted Hanks 55-44, and Bowie outlasted Horizon 76-68. Burges and Andress won Area round contests. Burges beat Lubbock Coronado 80-66 and Andress defeated Abilene Cooper 64-53. Bowie dropped its' Area contest to Amarillo 73-66 and Chapin was defeated by Palo Duro 73-58. Burges and Andress both won their Regional Quarter Final games. The Mustangs defeated Amarillo 75-70 and the Eagles beat Palo Duro 68-61. Burges continued its' winning ways the following week with a 78-66 victory in the Regional Semi Finals over Fort Worth Eastern Hills. Andress dropped their Regional Semi Final game to Northwest High School from Justin, Texas 62-58. Burges would see their great season come to an end the following day when they also lost to Northwest 65-62 in the Regional Finals. Burges finished the season at 28-5 and Andress racked up a 27-7 season record.

4A Boys Basketball
Clint, Fabens, San Elizario, and Mountian View were the El Paso area's 4A playoff representatives. Clint defeated Greenwood 63-48 in its' Bi-District matchup but lost to Estacado 100-48 in the Area round. The other 4A teams all lost their Bi-District games. Fabens lost to Fort Stockton 73-48, San Elizario was defeated by Andrews 82-39, and Mountain View was bested by Monahans 73-38

3A Boys Basketball
Tornillo was the area's only 3A representative. The Lobos lost to Ballinger 53-48 in their Bi-District contest.
2A Basketball
Anthony High School had another outstanding season but there was probably a feeling of disappointment as they didn't reach their goal of a state championship after the tremendous season that they had in 2016. Anthony defeated Morton 93-57 in its' Bi-District matchup and Christoval 56-35 in an Area tilt. Anthony defeated Stamford 71-52 in the Regional Quarter Finals before falling to Clarendon 68-64 in the Regional Semi Finals.

TAPPS or Private Schools
Faith Christian put a group of wins together at the end of the season to capture the TCAL 3A state championship. Faith Christian defeated Kipps Sunnyside of Houston 74-56 in the state title game. ITEC Academy of El Paso captured the TCAL 2A title with its' 61-46 over Texas Christian. ITEC also had wins over Athos Leadership Academy 78-28 and Marshall Christian Academy 50-45 in route to their state title. ITEC Academy topped off the month of March by finishing third in the TCAL National Tournament. ITEC defeated Science and Technical Academy 70-48; lost to Redemption 45-45 in a semi-final game and then defeated Lakeland Christian Academy 62-30 in the consolation game.

Girls' Basketball

Several girls' teams had outstanding seasons but unfortunately were eliminated fairly early in the playoffs. Franklin and Eastwood were the top teams in 6A while Burges an Andress were the best squads in 5A. Mountain View and San Elizario led the area's contingent in 4A and Tornillo was the 2A representative.

6A Girls' Basketball
Franklin, Eastwood, El Dorado, and Americas were the top four finishers in District 1-6A. Bi-District action saw Franklin defeat Permian 63-31 and Eastwood beat Midland 34-32.El Dorado was defeated by Frenship 55-19 and Americas lost to Tascosa 62-50. Eastwood and Franklin both saw their seasons come to an end in the Area round of the playoffs. Eastwood was defeated by Arlington Bowie 54-40 and Franklin lost to Arlington Lamar 56-46.

5A Girls' Basketball
The top 4 teams in District 1-5A were Andress, Burges, Bowie, and Jefferson while District 2-5A was led by Riverside, Bel Air, Eastlake, and Hanks. Bi-District action saw Riverside defeat Jefferson 67-37, Andress beat Hanks 52-32, Burges topped Eastlake 58-47, and Bel Air beat Bowie 55-43. Area round action saw Burges defeat Monterey 63-59 and Andress beat Randall 53-46. Bel Air was defeated by Amarillo 79-36 while Riverside was beaten by Canyon 65-34. Both El Paso area teams were defeated in the Regional Quarter Finals. Eventual state champion Canyon defeated Andress 68-46 and Burges fell to Amarillo 79-53.

4A Girls' Basketball
Mountain View, San Elizario, Fabens, and Clint were the area's playoff representatives in 4A basketball. Mountain View won its' Bi-District matchup with Monahans 47-36. San Elizario also captured a Bi-District title when they defeated Andrews 47-30. Fabens and Clint were defeated in their Bi-District games. Fabens lost to Greenwood 88-30 and Clint lost to Pecos 47-29.  Both El Paso area teams saw their seasons end in the Area round. Mountain View lost to Denver 46-29 and San Elizario was defeated by Levelland 62-41.

3A Girls' Basketball
Tornillo defeated Grape Creek 31-27 in a Bi=District tilt before losing to Idalou 63-23 in the Area round of the playoffs.

TAPPS and Parochial Girls' Basketball
One girls' team from the El Paso area brought home a state championship trophy. ITEC Prep Academy of El Paso won the TCAL 2A state championship by defeat Poetry Community Academy 28-19 in its' title game.

2016 Basketball Updates

El Paso area teams always seem to do well in the various state playoff tournaments. Not much was expected from the Andress High School boys' team after last year's Final 4 appearance which saw most of that team graduated. The Eagle struggled most of the season trying to find themselves.

They finished with a 16-15 overall record but came together as district play started. Andress finished with an 11-5 district record and the James Forbes and his team proceeded to make it all the way to the Regional Semi-Finals.

The Burges High School boys were highly ranked in 5A all season and finished with a 28-3 record before falling in the Regional Semi-Finals. The Anthony High School boys may have been the best story in the El Paso area. Anthony made it all the way to the Regional 2A Finals before being beat by Canadian in a very controversial game.

The girls were not to be upstaged. Franklin had a very strong team in 6A. The Lady Cougars finished the season with a 27-4 record and were ranked 31st in the state. Franklin made it to the Regional Quarter Finals before losing to Amarillo 53-43. Burges was the top girls' team in 5A. The Lady Mustangs were highly ranked during most of the season taking a 4th place ranking into the 5A playoffs. Burges finished the season with a 28-4 record and ranked 15th in the final state rankings after falling in the Regional Semi-Finals 63-56 to Wichita Falls Rider. The Mustangs had a 49-34 lead in the 3rd period but were out-scored 29-7 in the deciding 4th quarter which saw two Burges players, Becca Cardenas and Mia Lopez, foul out.

One El Paso area team did win a state basketball title. The El Paso Christian Home School Panthers won the SWCAA 2016 Basketball State Championship. The Panther's website states that the school has won 4 state title in a row. I would like to verify but information about some of these athletic associations is very hard to confirm. I know most people don't take these titles too seriously because of the competition that is faced but the athletes, their coaches, their parents, and the school can be very proud of the achievement. A state championship is quite an accomplishment at any level of competition.

The following is a summary of the 2015-2016 basketball season:
6A Boys: Americas, Eastwood, El Dorado, and Coronado were the top 4 teams in District 1-6A and represented the El Paso area in the playoffs. Americas beat Monterey 66-63 in a bi-district game before falling to Arlington Martin 50-48 in the Area round. Eastwood, El Dorado, and Coronado all dropped their bi district contests. Eastwood lost to Amarillo 48-46, El Dorado lost to Lubbock Coronado 78-52, and Coronado was defeated by Tascosa 70-49.

5A Boys: Burges, Bowie, Andress, and Canutillo were the top 4 finishers in District 1-5A while Del Valle, Eastlake, Bel Air, and Hanks were the playoff contenders out of District 2-5A. Bi-district action saw Bel Air beat Bowie 54-53, Andress defeated Eastlake 68-60, Del Valle topped Canutillo 57-54, and Burges defeated Hanks 50-41. Andress and Burges would continue their winning ways in the Area round while Bel Air and Del Valle would see their seasons come to a close. Burges beat Canyon easily 72-46, Andress defeated Palo Duro 66-61, Bel Air was narrowly defeated by Plainview 58-53, and Del Valle lost to Hereford 57-47. Both Andress and Burges would win their Regional Quarter Final games. Burges beat Hereford 49-46 and Andress defeated Plainview 73-64. Unfortunately, both Andress and Burges would see their seasons end in the Regional Semi Finals. Andress fell to Wichita Falls Rider 72-61 and Burges lost to Fort Worth Dunbar 62-53. Burges finished the year with a 28-3 record and a 25th final state ranking. The Mustangs were 14-2 in district play and were 22-0 before losing to Jefferson and Bowie.

4A Boys: San Elizario, Fabens, Mountain View, and Clint represented the El Paso area in the 4A playoffs. Clint lost to Seminole 73-46, Fabens was defeated by Greenwood 71-67, and Mountain View fell to Monahans 69-18 in their bi district games. San Elizario won their bi district game beating Andrews 63-53 before losing to LaMesa 90-73 in the Area round of the state playoffs.

3A Boys: Tornillo lost to Denver City 32-31 in a bi district game.

2A Boys: Anthony was probably the biggest surprise during the playoffs.  The Wildcats finished the season with a 24-1 record, losing only to Canadian in a Final 8 matchup, and a 5th place ranking amongst 2A teams. Here is

Anthony's playoff run:
Bi-District:  Anthony defeated Seagraves 85-43
Area: Anthony defeated Stamford 80-62
Regional Quarter Finals: Anthony defeated Smyer 54-35
Regional Semi-Finals: Anthony defeated Stratford 57-51
Regional Finals: Anthony lost to Canadian 59-57: Canadian would eventually win the State Championship

The game against Canadian was a controversial game. Anthony was seemingly fouled at the end of regulation and should have been given a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. The referees chose not to call a foul and Anthony was denied a chance to tie the game. No one knows if the Wildcats would have won the game in overtime and eventually the next game for the right to go to the final 4. It would have been nice if they had been afforded the opportunity. Anthony has most of their team back next year so maybe the Wildcats will bring home the championship in 2017.

6A Girls: Franklin, Coronado, El Dorado, and Montwood were the top teams in District 1-6A. Franklin was the only team to advance past the bi district stage with a 59-54 victory over Lubbock Coronado. Montwood was defeated by Amarillo 61-32, El Dorado lost to Tascosa 60-49, and Coronado fell to Frenship 56-53. Franklin had a very good basketball team finishing with a 27-4 record and a final 31st ranking in 6A girls' basketball. The Lady Cougars would go on to defeat Weatherford 60-49 in the Area playoffs before losing to Amarillo 53-43 in the Regional Quarter Finals.

5A Girls: Burges, Andress, Chapin, and Jefferson represented District 1-5A in the state playoffs while Eastlake, Horizon, Parkland, and Bel Air were the District 2-5A contenders. Bi district action saw Burges defeat Bel Air 72-

36, Chapin beat Horizon 59-49, Andress topped Parkland 45-36, and Eastlake topped Jefferson 60-38. Burges would be the only 5A team to advance past the Area round with their 56-44 victory over Dumas. Andress was beaten by Palo Duro 61-55, Chapin lost to Canyon 73-28, and Eastlake was defeated by San Angelo Lake View 70-45. Burges would beat Lake View 61-32 in the Regional Quarter Finals before losing to Wichita Falls Rider 63-56 in the Regional Semi Finals. Burges had a commanding lead at half time against Rider leading 37-22 at the break. The Mustangs led 49-34 late in the third period before getting outscored by 22points in the 4th period. Burges finished the season with a 28-4 record with a 16-0 district record. Burges finished the season with a 15th place ranking in the 5A girls poll.

4A Girls: San Elizario, Fabens, Mountain View, and Clint were the 4A representatives in the state playoffs. Fabens beat Andrews 65-64 and Mountain View defeated Pecos 46-43 in bi district action. San Eli lost to Greenwood 86-27 and Clint was defeated by Seminole 74-33. Both Fabens and Mountain View would fall in the Area round. Fabens fell to Lubbock Estacado 60-38 while Mountain View was defeated by Levelland 64-26.

2A Girls: Tornillo lost to Roosevelt 59-34 in bi district action.
 

2015 Basketball Updates

The Andress Eagles’ great season came to an end on March 12th, 2015 with a 69-48 loss to eventual 5A state champion Lancaster High School (Lancaster defeated Beaumont Ozen 59-47 to win the title) in a Final 4 Semi-Final matchup. The Eagles played hard but it was evident that they had met a team with too much height and speed. Andress had no answer for Lancaster’s Elijah Thomas who had 16 points and completely dominated the paint on both sides of the court. Andress made several rallies in the first half but Lancaster responded to each one by hitting critical three point shots, most from NBA range. Andress fell victim to Lancaster’s pressure defense and turned the ball over too many times.

Most of the turnovers led to easy points by Lancaster. Elijah Thomas and Nate Morris dominated the boards anytime Lancaster missed a shot. Andress trailed 20-8 at the end of the first period and then made a brief rally in the second period before going into halftime losing 32-23. Lancaster dominated the third period especially in the first four minutes. The game was out of reach by the end of the period with Lancaster leading 55-38. Both teams substituted heavily in the fourth period with the game out of control. Lancaster would close out Andress 69-48 bringing an end to the Eagles’ great season.  Scoring for the Eagles were Alvin Warren (8 points), Rashad Still (7 points), Delino Lewis (4 points), Zaccheus Jackson (13 points), Aaron Scallion (8 points), Brian Hunter (4 points), Alex Greenhoward (1 point), and Michael Davis (3 points). The loss brings to an end  a great four year period for 11 Andress seniors. Andress finishes the season at 33-2 with the only other loss coming to Denton Guyer 63-51 in December. I will now describe the games that led up to the Final Four Semi-Final appearance by the Andress Eagles.

The biggest high school basketball game in the El Paso area was played on March 3rd, 2015 between Andress High School and Bel Air High School at Don Haskins Special Events Center before a crowd of approximately 10,000 fans. Bel Air entered the game with a record of 32-0 and was ranked 4th in the 5A standings while Andress was ranked 5th with a record of 30-1. That alone would have made the game special but the game took on extra significance because the winner would advance to the Regional Semi Finals of the UIL Texas Basketball Playoffs. The speed and height of Andress would prove to be too much for Bel Air and the Eagles advanced to the next round of the Texas playoffs with a convincing 58-44 Regional Quarter Final victory over the Highlanders.

The magical season of the Andress Eagles continued over the March 6th-7th weekend. The Eagles made the journey to Snyder, Texas to play in the Regional Semi-Finals after finishing a 27-1 regular season and then playoff victories over Hanks High School 56-46 (B-District), Hereford 78-49 (Area), and Bel Air 58-44 (Regional Quarter Finals). Andress had reached this stage in 2014 before losing to Amarillo High School in the Regional Finals.  The Eagles had made it a year-long goal to get back to the Semi-Finals and avenge last year’s loss.

Andress played perennial state power, Fort Worth Dunbar on March 6th. Dunbar entered the game with an 18-8-1 record and were coached by Robert Hughes Jr., who is the son of legendary coach Robert Hughes Sr. ( the all-time winningest high school basketball coach in the United States with over 1333 victories). The game was never in doubt. Andress led the game 24-16 after the first period, 53-27 at halftime, and 71-34 after the third quarter. The Eagles finished the Wildcats with a very convincing 86-60 pounding to advance to the Regional Championship game where they would play Amarillo Palo Duro.

Andress was led by senior guard, Zaccheus Jackson, who hit scored 26 of his 32 points in the first half connecting on eight 3 point shots. Jackson would add two more 3 pointers in the second half. The Eagles also got great performances from Aaron Scallion who scored 12 points and 10 rebounds and from Rashad Still who added 17 points and seven rebounds. Brian Hunter scored 11 points and Alvin Warren added nine more points and eight rebounds. Next up for the 32-1 Eagles would be a Regional Finals match up with Palo Duro.

Andress had now reached the stage where their 2014 season had ended and the memories had haunted the Eagles for a year. Andress had led last year’s Regional Final against Amarillo High School at halftime and looked like they were heading to the Final Four. The game is four periods long and Andress had a miserable second half where they couldn’t score a field goal against a very tough Amarillo defense. Even worse---Andress missed at least 10 free throws in the second half which led to their downfall and put an end to their dreams. Yes, the game had bad memories but it also gave the returning players motivation to get back to the Regional Finals in 2015. It must have been eerily similar to see another opponent from Amarillo, Texas on the sidelines.

The Andress Eagles entered Saturday’s Regional Final determined to advance to the Final 4 of the UIL 5A State Basketball Tournament. The Eagles’ week had begun with a convincing Regional Quarter Final victory over Bel Air and then an even more dominating Regional Semi-Final victory over Dunbar. The Eagles were now 32-1 and 5th ranked. Their opponent would 26-5 Amarillo Palo Duro who owned a couple of playoff victories over Bowie High School and Canutillo High School as well as a 72-68 Regional Semi-Final victory over Birdville. Andress looked like they were going to have an easy time with the Palo Duro early in the game but the Dons settled down and the Eagles led 12-9 at the end of the first period. Andress had as much as a 10 point lead in the second period but by half time that lead had shrunk down to 33-29. Palo Duro scored the first seven points of the second half taking a 36-33 lead and one must wonder if Andress was thinking of their 2014 game. If so, the memories didn’t last as the Eagles had re-gained control by the end of the third period and led 50-45 at the horn. That would set up the heart stopping 4th period. Palo Duro would respond in the 4th quarter and quickly tie the game early on in the period. Both teams traded punches the rest of the game. The game was tied at 60-60 with one minute to go and Palo Duro in possession. There is no shot clock in high school basketball and it looked like the Dons were content to take the last shot of the game and either win or go into overtime. Aaron Scallion had other ideas. He drew a charging foul on Palo Duro with approximately eight seconds left in the game. It was now time for Andress to avenge last year’s loss. Andress called a timeout and Coach James Forbes designed a play for his Eagles. Rashad Still got the shot he wanted, a layup, with about three seconds left but it rolled of the rim. Alvin Warren was in the right spot to get the rebound a put in the winning shot as time expired. Warren’s basket sent Andress to a 62-60 victory and a date in the Final Four next Thursday night (March 12th) against #1 ranked Lancaster. The game winning basket did much more in the opinion of this writer. It gave the returning players from last year, including 11 seniors, vindication. Eight of those seniors have been with Andress program for four years. Those eight seniors are Alex Greenhoward, Brian Hunter, Zaccheus Jackson, Delino Lewis, Aaron Scallion, Alvin Warren, Debodric White, and Rashad Still. Andress coaches also praised last year’s seniors, Eddie Sinegal, Jeff Long, and Joey Pacheco, for their contributions in developing the team.

Rashad Still scored 16 points in the first half and added another 12 in the second half to lead all scorers with 28 points. Still was named the Region 1-5A Most Valuable Player for the tournament. He had 17 points against Dunbar and added another 17 rebounds in Saturday’s game against the Palo Duro. Zaccheus Jackson joined Still on the All-Tournament team. Jackson scored 11 points and hit three more 3 pointers on Saturday to go with his 10 3 pointers on Friday night against Dunbar. Scallion had nine points and eight rebounds while Warren finished with eight points and at least one very big rebound. The Eagles also got critical minutes from Delino Lewis, Brian Hunter, Alexander Greenhoward, and Debodric White.  Andress is now 33-1 on the year and has a date in the big dance to be played in San Antonio beginning on Thursday night, March 12th

The following is a summary of the 2014-2015 basketball season for the El Paso area high schools:

  • 6A Boys Basketball-Americas, Eastwood, Coronado, and El Dorado represented the El Paso area in the 6A boy’s playoffs. Eastwood defeated Lubbock Coronado 73-70 in their Bi-District match and then beat Arlington Martin 65-62 in the Area playoffs. The Troopers’ season would come to an end with a 75-55 loss to North Crowley in the Regional Quarter-Finals. El Paso’s other 6A representatives were defeated in their Bi-District matchups. Americas was beaten by Amarillo Tascosa 57-38, El Dorado was defeated by Amarillo High 61-24, and Coronado fell to Frenship 50-43.
  • 6A Girls’ Basketball-El Dorado, Franklin, Socorro, and Coronado represented the El Paso area in the 6A girls’ playoffs. Socorro was beaten by Amarillo High 69-18 in their Bi-District matchup while El Dorado, Franklin, and Coronado all won their Bi-District games. El Dorado defeated Monterey 53-47, Franklin beat Frenship 63-52, and Coronado up-ended Lubbock Coronado 52-43. El Dorado would go on to defeat Arlington Bowie 62-52 in the Area round and Midland High School 53-40 in the Regional Quarter Finals. The Aztec’s season came to an end with a 59-47 loss to Flower Mound in the Regional Semi-Finals. Franklin’s season ended with a 39-35 defeat to Midland in the Area round while Coronado’s season came to a halt with a 47-46 defeat to Arlington Martin in the Area round.
  • 5A Boy’s Basketball-Andress, Bel Air, Canutillo, Del Valle, Bowie, Eastlake, Burges, and Hanks were the El Paso area representatives for the 5A boys’ playoffs. I have already written about the Andress and Bel Air Regional Quarter Final matchup. Now I will write about the rest of the 5A matchups. Bel Air finished the regular season undefeated and carried that momentum into the playoffs. The Highlanders defeated Burges 45-36 in their Bi-District match up and then beat Canyon Randall 49-31 in the Area round before losing to Andress 58-44 in the Regional Quarter Finals. Bel Air finished a great season at 32-1. Canutillo defeated Eastlake 68-58 in their Bi-District matchup and the beat Canyon 47-36 in the Area round before losing to Palo Duro 69-65 in a Regional Quarter Final game. Bowie defeated Del Valle 78-74 in their Bi-District game before losing to Palo Duro 100-92 in the Area round.
  • 5A Girls’ Basketball- Chapin, Horizon, Eastlake, Andress, Bel Air, Jefferson, Burges, and Parkland were the area 5A representatives for the 5A girl’s playoffs. Chapin would beat Horizon 60-43 in their Bi-District match before losing to Plainview 67-51 in the Area round. Eastlake defeated Andress 53-43 in the Bi-Districts and then beat Hereford 67-58 in the Area round. The Falcon’s season came to an end with a 55-40 loss to Plainview in the Regional Quarter Finals. Bel Air beat Jefferson 48-30 in their Bi-District game and then was defeated by Canyon 46-34 in the Area round. Burges defeated Parkland 66-38 in their Bi-District match and Lakeview 83-44 in the Area round. The Mustang’s season ended with a 47-36 loss to Canyon in the Regional Quarter Finals.
  • 4A Boys Basketball- Mountain View, San Elizario, and Clint represented the El Paso area in the boy’s 4A playoffs. Mountain View was defeated by Andrews 65-47 in their Bi-District game. San Elizario beat Pecos 66-60 in the Bi-Districts before losing to Estocado 53-43 in the Area round. Clint beat Monahans 57-56 in their Bi-District game and then was defeated by Big Spring 62-43 in the Area round.
  • 4A Girl’s Basketball- Fabens, San Elizario, and Clint represented the El Paso area in the girl’s 4A playoffs. Fabens was beaten by Seminole 70-41 in their Bi-District game. San Elizario was beaten by Pecos 42-41 in their Bi-District match and Clint was beaten by Andrews 41-39 in their Bi-District game.

El Paso Private and Parochial Schools

It is getting harder to following the championship results of the private and parochial schools in El Paso. There are several different affiliations to keep track of and the El Paso schools have changed their memberships over the years. El Paso Schools belong or have belonged to the following leagues: TAPPS, TCAL, TCAF, and SWCAA. The following is a summary of the 2015 basketball championships in these various leagues (to the best of my knowledge):

  • Cathedral High School was defeated in the 5A TAPPS Area round by Plano John Paul 60-42.
  • The El Paso Jesus Chapel girls reached the TAPPS 1A Semi-Finals by defeating San Angelo Cornerstone 50-21 in the Area round and then beat Fort Worth Covenant Classical 35-12 in the Regionals. Jesus Chapel’s season came to an end with a 70-18 loss to Granbury North Central in the Semi-Finals.
  • The El Paso Faith Christian boy’s team had a below average 14-15 season but put three games together at the right time to capture the 2015 TCAL 3A State Championship. Faith Christian defeated Christo Rey Jesuit 68-41 in the first round of the playoffs and then beat San Marcos 67-40 in the next round. Faith Christian defeated Clear Lake Christian 53-48 to capture the 3A TCAL title. Faith Christian has now won 4 straight TCAL championships.
  • El Paso Christian Home School was defeated by Allen Academy 57-50 in the TCAL 2A championship game but apparently won the 2015 SWCAA Championship by defeating Rose of Sharon 91-61.  Allen Academy is coached by former SMU/New Mexico/ and Baylor coach, Dave Bliss. You might remember that Bliss was sanctioned by the NCAA for basketball violations and obstructing justice in a murder investigation while he was head coach at Baylor. Evidently Bliss is reborn and is the coach at Allen Academy as well as commissioner of TCAL basketball. 

2014 Basketball Updates

El Paso UIL High Schools

The Andress High School Eagles spent most of the season ranked #1 in the 4A high school basketball polls and looked like El Paso’s best chance for a basketball state champion since Eastwood accomplished the feat in 1976. The Eagles went 31-3 overall with a 14-0 district 1-4A record. The only regular season losses for Andress came in December at the Cedar Hills Lions Tournament where the Eagles lost to Northside High School from Fort Smith Arkansas 78-61 and to Fort Worth Paschal 47-38. Andress cruised through the rest of the season and into the Class 4A playoffs where they defeated San Elizario 78-36 (Bi-District), Lubbock 90-59 (Area), Amarillo Palo Duro 71-58 (Regional Quarter Finals) and Crowley 58-36 (Regional Semi-Finals).  

Their season came to a disappointing end on March 1st, 2014 when they lost to the Amarillo High School Sandies 54-44 in the Regional Finals. Andress led the game at halftime 25-17 but couldn’t make any shots against Amarillo’s variety of zone defenses and worse yet, the Eagles missed 10 foul shots. Roster players for Andress and their points per game included Delino Lewis (2.6), Aaron Scallion (2.9), Zaccheus Jackson (9.3), Michael Davis (3.1), Joey Pacheco (7.4), Brian Hunter (5.6), Jeffrey Long (14), Alvin Warren (7.5), Alex Greenhoward (2.0), Kylonte’ Bizzell (2.5), Eddie Sinegal (7.8), Debodric White (3.6). Rashad Still (5.8), Jared Douglas (0.9), Imai Lewis (1.3), and Isaiah Hemmitt (2.3).

The Eagles return 10 players next year but lose most of their scoring (roughly 36 points a game) in senior players Pacheco, Long, Bizzell, Sinegal, Douglas, and Hemmitt. The off season figures to be a long one with the Andress players wondering what could have been.

The Burges High School Lady Mustangs were the last team remaining in the girls’ playoffs. Burges went 26-5 on the season with a perfect 14-0 district 1-4A record. The Mustangs only losses came from Mansfield Timberview (Arlington Texas) 58-42, Trimble Tech (Fort Worth) 53-41, Eldorado (45-33), Cibola (Albuquerque, New Mexico) 54-44, and unfortunately to Trimble Tech again in the playoffs 56-51. Burges ran off a 12 game win streak between their losses to Cibola and Trimble Tech. The Lady Mustangs defeated Horizon 76-27 (Bi-District), Canyon Randall 46-43 (Area), Amarillo 59-52 (Regional Quarter Finals). Burges’ season came to an end against Trimble Tech 56-51 in the Regional Semi-Finals. The Mustangs led the game 42-37 and the end of three periods but were outscored 19-9 in the fourth and final period. Players on the Burges squad and their points per game were Becca Cardenas (12), Victoria Lopez (12.1), Natalie Sanchez (8.8), Denise Ramos (5.9), Crystal Madrid (0.3), Kayla Galindo (5.8), Karla McDonald (1.9), Ana Pena (0.4), Anika Galindo (3.1), Jazmine Troxler (1.5), Arielle Mack (2.9), Yannis Olivas, Leeann Edwards (1.6), and Mayra Garcia (5). Burges should be very good next year as most of their team and leading scorers return.

El Paso Private and Parochial Schools

Cathedral High School hired Tony Harper to resurrect the Irish program. Harper has been a very successful coach at several El Paso area high schools, most notably Montwood High School where he guided the Rams deep into the UIL 5A playoffs for many years. Harper’s first year at Cathedral was very successful. The Irish were 29-8 on the year and went to the Final 4 of the TAPPS 5A State Basketball Tournament. Some readers may think that the competition for TAPPS schools is at a lower level as compared to their UIL counterparts. Cathedral’s schedule is certainly an exception to the previous statement. The Irish played many 4A and 5A UIL teams in El Paso and beat most of them. Cathedral defeated Americas, Franklin, Del Valle, Parkland, Burges, Socorro, El Dorado, Las Cruces Onate, and Garfield (Los Angeles). The Irish had a bad period during December when they lost 5 of their 8 games to teams like Eastwood, Coronado, Hanks, Gadsden, Albuquerque Sandia, and St Michael’s. The losses to Sandia and St Michael’s came in the Southwest Dairy Farmer’s Holiday Classic in Clovis, New Mexico. Cathedral had playoff wins against Patterson Institute 53-33, St. Anthony’s of San Antonio 60-25, and Concordia Lutheran of Tomball, Texas 37-33. The win over Concordia put the Irish in the Final 4 of the TAPPS 5A tournament for the first time in many years. Cathedral has won 9 TCIL State Basketball Tournaments and finished runner up at least two times in the past, the last championship having come in 1960. Hopes were high for the Irish as they entered the game against Prestonwood Christian from Plano, Texas. Cathedral entered the game ranked #6 in the 5A TAPPS poll as compared to Prestonwood’s #1 ranking. Prestonwood showed why they were ranked #1 by defeating the Irish 53-38. Cathedral finished a very successful 2013-2014 season under their new coach and the future is bright. Players on this year’s team were Tony Reyes, Austin Smith, Vuk Grbic, Aaron Partida, Nick Montes, Oscar Loya, Albert Nava, Mike Renteria, Ryan Franco, Armando Valadez, Ramon Carrasco, Andres Castillo, Mike Alcala, and Hector Romero.

Faith Christian entered the 2013-2014 season as the two time defending TCAL state basketball champions. The Lions had been 53-4 the previous two years under the guidance of Coach Ana Carroll and led by All-State performer Ray Barreno. Josiah Webb had replaced Coach Carroll and Barreno was a freshmen for the Tulane University in New Orleans where he played sparingly for the Green Wave during his first year. The first two months of the season were a time for adjustments as the Lions had a record of 11-8 during that time span. Faith Christian went 8-2 from the middle of January and captured their third straight TCAL State Basketball Championship. The schedule was not as strenuous in 2013-2014 but the Lions did play and defeat several El Paso area UIL high schools including Anthony, Riverside, Mountainview, Clint, Tornillo, Las Cruces Onate, and TAPPS member Patterson Institute. Faith Christian got hot at the right time and won three playoff games to capture their 3rd state title in as many years. The Lions defeated West Columbia Charter 71-21, Mount Carmel Academy 48-36, and Waco Methodist Children’s Home 66-54 to win the championship. Members of the team and their scoring averages were Jacob Rodriguez (4.2), Kevin Vasquez (10.6), Eliseo Gonzalez (1.2), Jose Martinez (11.1), Junior Ruiz (2.5), Pablo Gonzalez (5.4), Dylan Surratt (7.2), Jose Hurtado (5.3), Joseph Cromeens (7.2), and Ricardo Diaz DeLeon. The future looks bright for the Faith Christian boys as they will have 7 returning players and most of their scoring back next year.

The Faith Christian Lady Lions put together three wins in a row a won the TCAL State Basketball Girls Championship in Waco, Texas. Faith Christian entered the tournament with a losing record but got hot at the right time. The Lions defeated Waco Clearlake Christian 48-32 in the semi-finals and West Columbia 57-18 in the finals to capture the title. Faith Christian was coached by Miguel Rodriguez and their roster included Alexia Infante (2.3 ppg), Hannah Navarro (6.2 ppg), Jackie Galaviz (4.2 ppg), Evelyn Galaviz (15.1 ppg), Alexandra Torres (3 ppg), Nayeli Herrera (1.9 ppg), Desiree Escamilla (5.2 ppg), Ariena Diaz de Leon (1.9 ppg), and Alondra Trevizo (1.2 ppg). Evelyn Galaviz scored 19 points and Hannah Navarro scored 14 points in the championship game. Evelyn Galaviz was named the most valuable player for the Lady Lions.

The Champions

The first state of Texas high school basketball championship for boys was held in Austin, Texas in 1921. Originally, 16 teams earned their way to Austin to compete for the new, but coveted, championship. El Paso High School represented our city in the first event. In fact, the Tigers had a little dynasty going as they were participants in 6 of the first 8 tournaments. Austin High School, Bowie High School, Eastwood High School, Riverside High School, Clint High School, and El Paso Harmony Science Academy have all made the annual trip to Austin to represent our city.

El Paso High School has made a total of nine appearances in the final four and three others in the final 8 of the boys Texas state basketball tournament (1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1928, 1936, 1940, 1941, 1945, 1947, and 1965). The Tigers were state champions in 1921, 1922, 1941, and 1947. They were runner ups in 1923, 1924, 1936, and 1940. El Paso high finished fourth in 1925 and 3rd in 1965. The Tigers didn’t finish in the final 4 in 1928 or 1945.

1921: El Paso High, coached by Luther Coblentz, was one of the 16 teams invited to the inaugural Texas state basketball tournament. The Tigers outscored their opponents 122-45 on their way to winning the state championship and beat the following teams:

Shiner 45-5; Celina 28-14; Houston Central 24-15; and San Antonio Brackenridge 25-11. The Tigers were led by Andy Cohen with 8 points, Sandy Esquivel with 12 points, and Louis Springer with 3 points. Cohen and Springer were named first team all-state performers while Esquivel was named to the second team. Andy Cohen was inducted to the Texas Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985.

 An excellent description of the championship game can be found in Ray Sanchez’s book “The Good, The Bad, and The Funny of El Paso Sports History” and in Dr. Billy Wilbanks’ book “Texas Boys State Basketball Champs”. You can also find a description of every team that has won a state championship on Dr. Wilbanks’ website texasbasketballchamps.com. I encourage readers to visits these sources if they want a more detailed description of each championship game.

1922: El Paso High was actually defeated in the championship game by Lindale 27-15 but was later awarded the title when Lindale was disqualified for using over the age players. The Tigers beat Waco 30-13; Stephenville 17-15; and Kirbyville 29-13 before losing to Lindale in the championship game. El Paso High was again coached by Luther Coblentz and were paced by Andy Cohen, J. Lozano, Alfred Uhlig, R.A. Brown, and “Dog” Dawson. Cohen and Dawson were named first team all-state team while Brown and Lozano made the second team.

Sources: Ray Sanchez’s “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of El Paso Sports History”

                 Dr. Billy Wilbanks’ “Texas High School Basketball Champions” (texasbasketballchamps.com)

 

1941: The Tigers of 1941 may have been a team of destiny. El Paso was coached by Jewell Wallace and defeated Mt. Vernon 28-25 in round one; Houston Jeff Davis 37-32 in the semi-final; and Abilene High 27-20 in the state championship game. Everything seem to go in the Tiger’s favor during the Houston Jeff Davis had lost only one game during the year and was a prohibitive favorite to win the crown. Houston was led by Slater Martin who went on to play for the University of Texas where he was an All-American and then played on four NBA championship teams. He was a sophomore in 1941 and he would make the all-state team in 1942 and 1943 leading Houston Jeff Davis to consecutive state titles. Slater Martin was inducted into the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971 and was named the all time most valuable player of the South West Conference in 1975. The Tiger’s good fortune didn’t end with the semi-final game. Abilene played the championship game minus four player who were either ill or injured. It wasn’t all good fortune. El Paso High had a very talented team that prevailed and won its third state basketball title in 20 years. The EPHS was led by Mario Palafox with 6 points and Mike Izquierdo with 7 points. Izquierdo scored 16 points in the semi-final game. Palafox and Izquierdo were  both named to the first team all-state team. Other team members were: Yvan Rechy, Fernando Palafox, Steve Minas, Francisco Salas Porras, Gordon Brandon, James Allen, Milton Cherno, Bob Hoover, Ralph Marmolejo, Bobby Goldfarb, Buddy Ward, and team manager Ruben Corral. Bobby Goldfarb was only 13 years old and was the youngest player to ever play in the state tournament. On a sadder note, Ralph Marmolejo became a policeman after graduation. He was killed in the line of duty in 1951 and his name is inscribed on National Law Enforcement Memorial located in Washington DC.

Sources: Ray Sanchez’s “The Good, The Bad, and The Funny of El Paso Sports History”

                Dr. Billy Wilbanks’ “Texas High School Basketball Champions” (texasbasketballchamps.com)

 

1947:  The El Paso High Tigers of 1947 had made history even before they played their first game in the state tournament. El Paso High flew to Austin to participate in the tournament and became known as Bthe “Flying Tigers”, a name chosen to honor an American air squadron during World War II. El Paso High beat Dallas Crozier 37-36 in their first round game; Greenville 49-31 in the semi-final game; and San Antonio Jefferson 27-22 in the championship game. The Tigers were coached by C.D Jarvis and led by Jose “Pepe” Palafox, Richard Montoya, and Ramon Orona. Palafox scored 12 points in the Tiger’s first game, 18 points in the semi-final, and 8 points in the championship game. Montoya scored 8 points in the final game while Orona scored 14 points in his first game and 13 points in the semi-final game. Other team members were Pete Gonzalez, George Mengel, Stanley Blaugrand, Bobby Parra, Robert Mena, Ray Esquibel, Eddy Jabolie, Robert Avina, and Morgan Broaddus. Jose Palafox was named to the All State team. Some other items about the tournament worth noting are: Greenville had a 6 foot 10 inch player   named Marcus Freiberger who scored a record 86 points in the tournament including 46 points in the consolation game. Freiberger was the tallest player to have ever played in the state tournament. He went on to play for the University of Oklahoma and also played for the USA Olympic team in 1952. A second note of interest was Kyle Rote was a member of the San Antonio Jefferson squad. Rote would go on to be an All American football player at SMU and then play 11 years with the New York Giants of the NFL where he was a teammate of Frank Gifford. Rote was the first player to ever be named to the All State teams in both football and basketball. He was elected to the Texas High School Basketball and Football Hall of Fame. Jose Palafox of EPHS would to lead Tyler Junior College to an undefeated season and a national championship before attending the University of Houston. He would later become a doctor of medicine as did his brother, Mario.

Sources: Ray Sanchez’s “the Good, The Bad, and The Funny of El Paso Sports History” and Dr. Billy Wilbanks’ “Texas High School Basketball Champions” (texasbasketballchamps.com)

 

1976:  The Eastwood Troopers, coached by former Texas Western College player Bobby Lesley, cruised to a 31-3 record in route to their only state championship. The Troopers were led by Tim Crenshaw, Gilbert Shepherd, and Jim Bowden. Other team members were John Abbott, Mike Chapman, Ernie Colorado, Bob Guthrie, Jerry Krampen, Dee La Fever, Darold Molix, Doug Rutter, Eric Smith, Jerry Thompson, Mickey Torres, and Steve Wohlgemuth.  Eastwood beat Ysleta 73-52, Houston Arlington 71-68, and Wichita Falls 65-44 before making their historic trip to Austin, Texas. The Troopers beat Victoria 69-67 in overtime in the semi-final game. Gilbert Shepherd made a 25 foot shot with 9 seconds left in regulation to send the game to ot. Jim Bowden hit a 20 foot jumper as time was running out in the overtime period to win the semi-final game. Eastwood beat Tyler 74-62 to win the state championship. The Trooper’s held Tyler’s 6’9’’ Anthony Lee to 12 points by playing a combination zone. Eastwood used only five players in the final with each player scoring in double figures. Crenshaw scored 18 points, Shepherd scored 19 points, Bowden scored 14 points, and Molix and Wohlgemuth each scored 12 points. Bowden scored 25 points and had 13 rebounds in the tournament. Shepherd and Crenshaw added 25 points 2 rebounds and 36 points 18 rebounds respectively. All three players were named to the State All-Tournament team.

Sources: Ray Sanchez’s “The Good, The Bad, and The Funny of El Paso Sports History”

                Dr. Billy Wilbanks’ “Texas Basketball Champions” (texasbasketballchamps.com)

Cathedral High School is the only other school in El Paso that has won a state basketball championship. In fact, the Fighting Irish have won 9 TCIL (Texas Christian Interscholastic League) titles. One might be tempted to say that Cathedral hasn’t faced the competition that the other El Paso schools that compete in the UIL (University Interscholastic League) have met, but remember that the Irish play the best teams in El Paso and do more than hold their own. Cathedral has won state titles in the following years: 1936,1938,1939,1940, 1941, 1942, 1950, 1957, and 1960. The records that I have looked at are not very complete. The TCIL page list only the champions of each year so I can’t tell you who Cathedral beat or if the Irish have ever finished runner up inw the tournament. Ray Sanchez, in his book “The Good, The Bad, and The Funny of El Paso Sports History”, mentions the 1950 championship team. Sanchez states that Cathedral coach, Jim Wardy, had coached the 1949 Irish to a city football title and then turned around and led Cathedral to the 1950 TCIL state championship. Wardy coached Cathedral for two years before resigning to go into business where he was equally successful before passing away at an early age of an apparent heart attack.

El Paso Faith Christian has won 4 straight TCAL basketball championships.

2015 Faith Christian won the TCAL 3A Division I Boys Basketball Championship. (description is in 2015 updates)

2014 Faith Christian defeated Waco Methodist Children’s Home 66-55 (some sources give the score as 66-54) to win TCAL Boys Basketball State Championship. The Lions were led in the championship game by Joseph Cromeens (18 points), Jose Martinez (16 points) and Kevin Vasquez (14 points). More details of the team are given in the 2014 recap at the top of the page.

2013 Faith Christian, coached by Ana Carroll, enjoyed a second straight nearly flawless season. The Lions were 21-1 and were led by 6’10’’ Ray Barreno to the TCAL Boys Basketball State Championship. Some readers may want to diminish this team’s accomplishments but that would be a huge mistake. The Lions played some of the best teams in El Paso and the surrounding area. Their only loss came against Las Cruces 61-58. Faith Christian defeated Parkland 88-64, Canutillo 54-33, Riverside 46-26, Lubbock Coronado 69-37, Las Cruces Mayfield 84-41, and Cathedral High School 56-25 to name just a few teams that fell to the Lions. The Faith Christian teams of 2012 and 2013 had a combined record of 54-3 and won back to back state titles. The Lions were simply one of the best teams in the El Paso if not in the state of Texas. Faith Christian defeated West Columbia Charter 71-28, Methodist Children’s Home 91-54, and Feast Home School 86-74 to capture the TCAL state title. Team members and the points per game were Ruben Macias, Guillermo Galaviz, Joseph Cromeens, Joel Martinez, Rene Esparza, Ricardo Saldana, Dylan Surratt and Ray Barreno. Barreno was heavily recruited and accepted an athletic scholarship to Tulane University.

2012 Faith Christian, coached by Ana Carroll, and led by 6’10’’ Ray Barreno went 28-2 and won their first TCAL 3A Boys Basketball State Championship. The 2011-2012 Lions were a very good, tall basketball team (several players besides Barreno were 6’4’’ or better) and defeated all but two of the teams that challenged them. Cathedral High School defeated the Lions 46-38 but Faith Christian returned the favor by defeating the Irish 66-34. Faith Christian also defeated Riverside 58-41, Bowie 43-27, El Paso High 74-44, Eastwood 72-34, Austin Westlake 78-65, Hobbs New Mexico 87-51, Midland 79-41, and Las Cruces Mayfield 67-59. Faith Christian rolled through the regular season and entered the 3A TCAL State Basketball Tournament where they defeated Mount Carmel Academy (Houston) 116-26, Victory Prep (Houston) 76-41, and Methodist Children’s Home (Waco) 86-46. Members of the state championship team included Erik Lucano Vega, Ernesto Quintero, Guillermo Galaviz, Ivan Vicencio, Ray Barreno, Rene Esparza, Ruben Saldana, Ruben Macias, and Matt Hernandez.    

 

The Runner Ups

Several teams from El Paso have made the trip to Austin, Texas to compete in the annual Texas UIL state basketball tournament. El Paso High, Austin, Bowie, Eastwood, Clint, and El Paso Harmony have all made it to the final 8. El Paso High has made the trip 12 times, Austin 3 times, Bowie 6 times, Eastwood 1 time, Riverside 1 time, Clint 1 time, and EP Harmony 1 time. El Paso High has won 4 state titles as described earlier but the Tigers have also finished runner up 4 times (1923, 1924, 1936, and 1940).  You can find a description of the tournament held in each of the years in Dr. Billy Wilbanks’ book, “Texas High School Basketball Champions” or on his website texasbasketballchamps.com. I will just highlight each of EPHS’s runner up teams.

1923: El Paso High defeated Shiner 30-4 in the first round; defeated San Antonio 31-24 in the semi-finals; lost to Oak Cliff (later became Dallas Oak Cliff) 17-15. Oak Cliff was unbeaten going into the tournament and remained that way after the championship game. They were finally defeated in a national tournament. Evidently, Oak Cliff played a suffocating brand of defense as they held the El Paso High’s leading scorer (only identified as Lozano) to a single field goal. I can find no mention of any player from EPHS being named to the All State Tournament Team.

1924: El Paso High defeated Ralls 28-26 in the first round; defeated Houston 24-18 in the semi-finals; lost to Oak Cliff 29-18 in the championship game. Same story as the previous year. This edition of the Oak Cliff team had actually lost one game during the season giving them only two losses in a two year span.

1936: El Paso defeated Austin 21-14 (not the El Paso Austin) in the first round; Houston Davis 28-24 in the semi-finals; lost to Cushing 33-29 in the finals. The Cushing team, 32-3 on the year, was a small school playing against much bigger schools reminiscent of the Hickory Huskers depicted in the movie “Hoosiers”. The final game against EPHS was evidently a nail biter. The score was tied 11 times and the lead changed hands 16 times before Cushing finally won the game. Two Tigers identified only as Castillo and Dweyer were named to the All-State Tournament team.

1940: El Paso defeated Laneville 30-29 in the first round; Livingston 31-28 in the semi-finals; lost to San Marcos 22-21 in the finals. The tournament format changed to only 8 teams being sent to Austin for the state championships. The San Marcos team was 46-1 on the season despite not having anyone on their roster taller than 6’2.5’’. El Paso High trailed by 10 points going into the 4th period before putting on a frenetic comeback and cutting the deficit to one point. San Marcos held on in the final minute for the one point victory. Mike Izquierdo and Mario Palafox were named to the All-State Tournament team. The same two players with lead the Tigers to the 1941 championship. Izquierdo was elected to the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 1972.

Sources: Texas UIL Website uiltexas.org

                 Dr. Billy Wilbanks’ book “Texas Basketball Champions” (texasbasketballchamps.com)

 

Third Place Finishers

The state tournament held consolation games for many years. I witnessed one in 1965 when El Paso High, led by Kenny John, beat Kingsville King 66-64 to finish third in the state. Two other schools from El Paso (Austin High in 1950 and Bowie High in 1939) also finished third in the tournament. A brief description of each team’s journey follows.

  • 1939 Bowie: The Bears beat Dalhart 38-15; lost to Livingston 24-22; and then defeated Abilene 23-22 in the consolation game. Livingston won the state title by beating San Antonio Lanier 33-31. Rodolfo Olivas was named to the All State Tournament Team. Bowie fans might find it interesting to know that San Antonio Lanier was coached by Nemo Herrera who later coached Bowie to the 1949 championship in baseball. Herrera also coached Lanier to six state basketball appearances winning titles in 1943 and 1945 and losing in 1939.
  • 1950 Austin:  The Panthers defeated Harlingen 61-23; lost to Vernon 39-37; and beat Sweetwater 49-42 to win the consolation game of the ’50 tournament. The state tournament had grown more popular by this time and more teams were being allowed to compete for titles. Austin represented El Paso in the 2A division. There was also a 1A division, a Conference B division, and a City Conference division. The state champion of 1950 was Corpus Christi who beat Vernon 40-34. Billy Word was named to the All-State Tournament Team.
  • 1965 El Paso High: El Paso High represented El Paso in the 4A division. There were also divisions for 1A, 2A, and 3A. The Tigers lost to a very speedy Dallas Thomas Jefferson squad 73-55; and then beat Kingsville King 66-64 to win the consolation game. El Paso High was led by Kenny John and also sported two 6’7” players named William Hardie and Richard Crockett. The late George Hodge, one of this city’s best all-around athletes, was also on this team. Hardie and Crockett were considered to be very tall basketball players back in 1965. They certainly dominated play in El Paso. The champion of the 1965 tournament was Houston Jones who beat Dallas TJ 64-59 in the title game. C.D. Jarvis returned to the state tournament after an 18 year absence. Jarvis was the coach of the 1947 Tigers that won the state title. Sadly, he would never reach the tournament finals again. Kenny John was named to the All-State Tournament Team.

The Fourth Place Finishers

  • 1925 El Paso High: The state tournament of 1925 featured 16 teams from different parts of the state. Schools of different sizes converged on Austin, Texas to battle for the title of state champion. El Paso High defeated Austin (not from El Paso) 18-17 to advance to the final 8. The Tigers then lost to Beaumont 22-18 in the semi-finals and to Stephenville 21-15 in the consolation game. Beaumont was the eventual state champion as they beat San Antonio Brackenridge to claim the title.

1938 Bowie High School:  Only 8 teams met in Austin, Texas to compete for the 1938 basketball title. Bowie defeated Kingsville 45-30 to advance to the final four. The Bears were then defeated by Abilene 27-20 in the semi-final game and by Houston Reagan 25-22 in the consolation game. Dallas Wilson was the eventual state champion as they defeated Abilene 41-27 to take the title. Dallas Wilson finished the season with a 27-0 record. One other interesting fact about this tournament was that 1938 was the first year that center jumps were not used after each made basket. Prior to 1938, action was stopped after each made basket and the teams met at center court for a jump ball to see who would have the opportunity to score next.

1948 Bowie High School:  The Bears defeated Denton 33-27 in the round of 8 to advance to the final 4. Bowie was now being coached by Nemo Herrera who had already won two state titles at San Antonio Lanier before he moved to El Paso for the health of his son. Herrera is better known as the coach who led the 1949 Bowie Bears to the state championship in baseball. He may be the only coach to have won state championships in two different sports. The Bears were defeated by Dallas Crozier 44-36 in the semi-final and again by Houston Milby 51-44 in the consolation game. Dallas Crozier defeated Lufkin 29-28 to win the title. Bowie’s Jim Ochoa was named to the All-State Tournament Team.

3 Other Teams to Make the Final 4

  • 1995 Riverside High School: Riverside was one of the four teams to reach Austin, Texas to compete for the 5A state championship. The Rangers were a very good basketball team but they had the misfortune of running into San Antonio East Central in their semi-final game. Central forced the Rangers into 31 turnovers and future Texas Tech star Stanley Bonewitz scored 34 points to help his team beat Riverside 107-93. Central dominated the ’95 tournament by scoring a record 215 points in two games and Bonewitz scored 78 points in his two contests. San Antonio East Central defeated Dallas Carter 108-86 to win the title and finished the season with a perfect 33-0 record. No consolation game was held. Riverside’s Charlie Herrera was named to the All-State Tournament Team.
  • 2013 El Paso Harmony Science Academy: This entree may come as a surprise to most readers but EP Harmony competes in conference 1A Division 1. EP Harmony was ranked #24 in the state by Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) and played many 4A and 5A teams during the 2012-2013 season. The Tigers had a bye in the opening game on their way to Austin. They then beat Forsan 78-56; Farwell 48-46; Clarendon 72-50; and Wellington 70-51 before making the trip to the state capitol.  EP Harmony (26-3) met eventual state champion Dallas Triple A Academy (28-5) in their semi-final game. Triple A Academy was ranked #1 in the tournament and defeated EP Harmony 90-50 and then went on to beat Mumford 80-54 to win the championship. No consolation game was held. Bryan Urrutia scored 16 points and had 5 rebounds while teammate Ivan Gutierrez scored 13 points and had 4 rebounds. The El Paso team played without leading scorer King McClure who had averaged 22 points per game for the seasons. Bryan Urrutia was named to the All-State team by the TABC.
  • 1992 Clint High School: Clint High School lost its semi-final game to eventual 3A champion Stafford 58-52. Clint trailed by as many as 22 points in the third period before putting on a ferocious rally to cut the lead to 4 points with two minutes left in the game. That’s as close as Clint would get. Stafford defeated Groesback 73-72 to capture the crown. Groesback was trying to become one of the few teams, if not the only team, to win titles in football and basketball in the same calendar year.
  • Seven Other Teams That Made the Trip to Austin and Finished in the Elite 8

There are 7 other teams from El Paso that made the long trip to Austin, Texas and finished in the elite 8 teams of the state. I differentiate these teams from any other teams from El Paso that have made the final 8 because these teams played at the state tournament in Austin.

  • 1928 El Paso High: The Tigers lost to Temple 33-26 in their round of 8 game. Austin (not from El Paso) defeated Temple 33-14 for the state championship but was disqualified later for using an ineligible player. Temple was eventually declared the state champion.
  • 1934 Austin High: The Panthers lost to Denton 24-21 in their round of 8 game. The 1934 champion was Athens who beat Lamesa 28-22 in the title game. Denton was beaten in the consolation game by San Antonio Jefferson 35-15.
  • 1935 Bowie High: The Bears lost to Lamesa 38-32 in their round of 8 game. Lamesa would lose to Denton 38-23 in the championship game.
  • 1942 Austin High: The Panthers lost to Denton 40-30 in the round of 8. Denton was defeated in the consolation game by Dallas Tech 32-18. The state champion was Houston Davis who beat Lufkin 55-35. The 1942 tournament was the first one that featured different divisional state titles. Before 1942, every school competed in an All Schools tournament.
  • 1943 Bowie High:  The Bears lost to Dallas Crozier Tech 42-25 in their round of 8 game. Dallas Crozier would lose in the consolation game to Dallas Highland Park 33-19. The eventual state champion was Houston Davis who beat a team from Austin 37-36.
  • 1945 El Paso High: The Tigers were defeated by Houston Philby 39-24 in the round of 8. Philby would go on to win the consolation game over Greenville 47-27. The ’45 state champion was Fort Worth Paschal who beat Lufkin 43-29 to win the title.
  • 1949 Bowie High: The Bears, now coached by Nemo Herrera, lost to Port Arthur 32-25 in the round of 8. Nemo Herrera had moved to El Paso due to the health of his son. He was already well known in the coaching ranks as he had led San Antonio Lanier to two state titles in 1943 and 1945. In all, Herrera’s Lanier teams made 6 trips to the state championships winning two titles and losing one. Port Arthur would lose the consolation game to Lubbock 47-33. The ’49 state champion was Texas City who beat Brownwood 30-28. Nemo Herrera would be named to the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame and The Texas Coaches Association Hall of Honor. He would lead the 1949 Bowie baseball team to the state championship title.

Sources: Dr. Billy Wilbanks’ “Texas Basketball Champions” (texasbasketballchamps.com) and uiltexas.org

The Best of the Rest

Several other El Paso or El Paso area teams have made the final sixteen or final 8 in the last almost 94 years of state basketball tournament. The tournament has changed formats many times, has expanded to allow more teams the opportunity to win titles, and has grown in popularity every year. I searched the University Interscholastic League’s website, uiltexas.org, to see how El Paso teams have fared over the years. Sometimes the records were incomplete or they just listed the teams the teams that qualified for the playoffs from each district and then listed results for the final 16 or 8 teams through the end of the tournament. The following is a list of El Paso teams that have made the final 16 or final 8 but didn’t make the final 4 to qualify for the state tournament in Austin, Texas. Eastwood High is the last team from El Paso to win a state championship in basketball. Riverside High and EP Harmony Science Academy are the last El Paso teams to make the final 4.

  • 2014: Andress High School made the final 8 in 4A. The Eagles defeated San Elizario 78-36; defeated Lubbock 90-59; defeated Amarillo Palo Duro 71-58; defeated Crowley 58-36; lost to Amarillo 54-44.
  • 2012: Hanks High School made the final 16 in 5A defeated Tascosa 70-58; defeated Arlington Martin 59-46; defeated San Angelo Central 70-68; lost to South Grande Prairie 56-53
  • 2010: Austin High School and Bowie High School made the final 16 in 4A defeated Riverside 77-56; defeated Big Spring 57-40; defeated Canyon Randall 66-44; lost to Mansfield Legacy 64-59
  • 2009: El Dorado High School made the final 16 in 5A defeated Lubbock Coronado 65-50; defeated Arlington Bowie 56-53 ot; defeated Hanks 48-46; lost to Duncanville 78-40
  • 2009:  Andress High School made the final 16 in 4A defeated Canutillo 39-37; defeated Frenship 59-52; defeated Canyon Randall 52-41; lost to Timberview 49-43
  • 2008: Fabens High School made the final 16 in 3A bye; defeated Snyder 55-45; defeated Greenwood 49-47; lost to Burkburnett 68-53
  • 2007: Montwood High School made the final 16 in 5A defeated Lubbock Coronado 61-33; defeated North Crowley 62-58; defeated Mansfield 57-40; lost to Duncanville 50-33
  • 2007: Fabens High School made the final 16 in 3A bye; defeated Seminole 53-48; defeated Greenwood 73-55; lost to Wylie 60-44
  • 2006: Montwood High School made the final 8 in 5A. This team featured future New Mexico Lobo Roman Martinez
  • Bi-District Bye; Area defeated North Crowley 46-41; Regional Quarter Finals defeated Midland 53-47; Regional Semi-Finals defeated      Desoto 48-44; Regional Final lost to Plano 60-45
  • 2005: Montwood High School made the final 16 in 5A bye; defeated Mansfield 44-27; defeated Midland Lee 50-37; lost to DeSoto 66-43
  • 2005: Fort Hancock made the final 16 in 1A Division 1 defeated Iraan 78-60; defeated Smyer 66-51; lost to Morton 51-37
  • 2002: Franklin High School made the final 8 in 5A. Todd Bostic, the current Franklin basketball coach, was on the team.   Bi District bye; Area defeated Lubbock Coronado 64-53; Regional Quarter Final defeated Amarillo 49-47; Regional Semi-Final defeated Duncanville 57-46; Regional Final lost to Midland Lee 56-54 in overtime
  • 2001: Montwood High School made final 16 in 5A defeated Irvin 62-46; defeated Lubbock Coronado 57-50; defeated Andress 53-40; lost to Duncanville 56-34
  • 2000: Hanks High School made the final 8 in 5A
  • Bi-District defeated Jefferson 59-40; Area defeated Lubbock Coronado 72-68; Regional Quarter Final defeated Monterey 71-46;
  •  Regional Semi-Final defeated Lewisville 54-48; Regional Final lost to Duncanville 47-42
  • 1999: Montwood High School made the final 16 defeated Irvin 55-40; defeated Amarillo 71-67 ot defeated Franklin 38-34; lost to Duncanville 70-54
  • 1996: Irvin High School made the final 8 in 5A
  • Bi District bye; Area defeated Lubbock 70-50; Regional Quarter Final defeated Monterey 69-57; Regional Semi-Final defeated Fort Worth Dunbar 81-72; Regional Final lost to Euless Trinity 74-50
  • 1995: Riverside High School made the final 4 in 5A defeated Coronado 43-42; defeated Lubbock Coronado 61-59; defeated Irvin 71-64; defeated Fort Worth Dunbar 74-73; defeated Abiline Cooper 48-45; lost to San Antonio East Central 107-93
  • 1994: Fabens High School made the final 16 in 3A defeated Big Lake Reagan County 49-47; defeated Springtown 62-59; lost to Brownfield 73-56
  • 1993: Hanks High School made the final 8 in 5A
  • Bi District bye; Area defeated Amarillo Tascosa 74-68; Regional Quarter Final defeated Midland Lee 52-46; Regional Semi-Final defeated Hurst Bell 57-51; Regional Final lost to Fort Worth Dunbar 77-67
  • 1993 Coronado High School made the final 16 in 5A bye; defeated Abiline Cooper 40-38; defeated Palo Duro 49-33; lost to Fort Worth Dunbar 70-54
  • 1992: Coronado High School made the final 16 in 5A defeated Hanks 40-31; defeated Amarillo 37-34; lost to Fort Worth Dunbar 65-40
  • 1992: Clint High School made the 4 in 3A defeated Crane 70-60; defeated Ballinger 54-53; defeated Canyon 71-68; defeated Merkel 65-63; lost to Stafford 58-52
  • 1991: Coronado made the final 16 in 5A defeated Bel Air 55-51; defeated Plainview 59-47; lost to Fort Worth Dunbar 58-37
  • 1990: Hanks High School made the final 16 in 5A defeated Bowie 76-63; defeated Amarillo 61-48; lost to Fort Worth Dunbar 77-68

The records before 1990 only show final 4 teams

Girls Basketball

I had intended to do a third chapter dedicated to girls’ basketball in the UIL State Tournament but I am sad to report that no El Paso or El Paso area girls’ team has reached the final 4. The UIL has held a basketball tournament for girls since 1950. I can only find records for 6 teams that have reached at least the final 32 teams of the tournament.

  • 2013: Hanks High School made the final 8 in 4A

    Hanks beat Austin 56-46; beat Plainview 49-43; beat Dunbar 60-45; lost to Aledo 50-48

  • 2012: Clint Horizon High School made the final 8 in 4A

    Horizon beat Austin 58-36; beat Frenship 49-41; beat Palo Duro 45-44; lost to Summit 53-39

  • 2006: Americas High School made the final 16 in 5A

    Americas had a bye; beat North Crowley 65-61 ot; beat Amarillo 35-33; lost to Desoto 46-39

  • 1995: Irvin High School made the final 16 in 5A

    Irvin had a bye; beat Lubbock Monterey 54-53; beat Amarillo Tascosa 62-55; lost to Trinity 64-45

  • 1990: Hanks High School and Del Valle High School made the final 32 in 5A.

 

Notice that I said that no El Paso area team had won a UIL State Basketball Championship. The El Paso Faith Christian girls won the 3A TCAL State Basketball Championship on March 1, 2014. Details of the Lions championship team can be found in the 2014 recap at the start of the chapter.

Hopefully the girls will do better in the years to come. 

 

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