Texarkana Gazette

Hooks to face No. 2 Hitchcock in state semifinals


The Hooks Hornets (325) will collide with the No. 2 ranked Hitchcock Bulldogs (29-7) in the state semifinals of the Class 3A boys state basketball tournament in San Antonio’s Alamodome.

That game will tip off at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Hooks won the Region 2 championsh­ip and Hitchcock was the Region 3 winner.

The No. 7 ranked Lytle Pirates (34-6) and the No. 5 rated Childress Bobcats (277) will clash in the other 3A semifinal at 3 p.m. Thursday.

The 3A championsh­ip game is set for 10 a.m. Saturday.

Hooks, making its first trip to the state basketball tournament, is in the Final Four, but the Hornets are not ranked in the Top 25 of the Texas Basketball Coaches Associatio­n’s state poll. The other three semifinal teams are ranked in the Top 10.

Hooks has beaten two ranked teams in the playoffs, edging No. 8 Ponder, 52-50, and No. 22 Mineola, 56-43, in the regional tournament at Prosper, Texas.

Class 3A’s top-rated team, defending state champion Dallas Madison, was ousted by Ponder in the regional semifinals.

The District 14-3A champion Hornets went 30-7 last season, but lost to White Oak by one point in the second round of the playoffs.

Four starters returned off that 30-7 squad, including Carveion Johnson, Jatavious Johnson and Keyshawn Walls, who were all sophomores last year. Landon Hamilton was the other returning starter.

Hamilton a senior this year.

“This group — they’re a great bunch of guys — has really come together and they’ve won 62 games in two years,” said Hornets coach Michael Jackson. “Three of them will be back for another season next year, but we’re definitely focused on going to the state tournament this season. We’re very excited for our team and our fans.”

The Hornets are a good offensive team, but their defense has been a big part of the team’s success this year, Jackson said.

“We play a solid man-toman defense and we’ve also got some great length,” Jackson said. “We try to take away the opponent’s biggest weapons and we’ll use the fastbreak run-and-gun offense if we get the chance. But, we’ll

slow down and run our basic offensive plays because we’re pretty good at that, too.”

Hooks’ shot selection has been good, the coach said.

“The guys have been working hard to get the best shots, and our guys will pass the ball to the open man and not be selfish with their shot selections,” Jackson said. “And we’ve taken care of the basketball and not commit many turnovers. That’s been a plus for us all year.”

The distance between Hooks and San Antonio is about 437 miles, or about a 6 1/2-hour trip in the car.

“Our fans have followed us wherever we’ve played and we hope we’ll have some fans in the stands in San Antonio,” Jackson said. “I think just about the whole town watched us beat Mineola (56-43) in the regional championsh­ip game Saturday in Prosper (Texas). Having our students and the community support has been tremendous this year.”

Jackson said Hooks’ fans make some noise.

“Yes, they’re loud,” he said with a chuckle. “We can hear them rooting us on. It’s great to have that type of support, and I think it’s an inspiratio­n for our team to play its best basketball.”

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