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UIL: Kimball win 4A state championship

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AUSTIN -- All season long, Dallas Kimball High School has received recognition for having the "Big Three," referring to its two Division I signees in 6-foot-6 North Texas-bound Jordan Williams and 6-foot-6 SMU-bound Jalen Jones, in addition to a player who is expected to sign with a Division I school in April in 6-foot-9 Jarion Henry.
The irony of the Kimball basketball team is that the "Big Three" can be decoy for another trio of Kimball standouts at the drop of a hat. Just ask the La Marque Cougars.
Kimball (38-3) received solid play from a trio of guards who paved the way to a 78-64 win in the UIL Class 4A state championship Saturday afternoon at the Frank Erwin Center. Kimball won its fourth state title in front of 12,836 -- a good-sized number of them wondering who the sharpshooting, defensive-minded guards were.
"Everyone likes to ask about the big three," Kimball coach Royce "Snoop" Johnson said. "I'll ask them, 'What big three are you talking about?'"
That's because Johnson knows he can rely on a multitude of players at any given time. On Saturday, the show belonged to guards Shannon Lilly, Austin Franklin and Oscar Lewis. Lilly, one of the most underrated shooters in the state, scored 23 points and hit 5 of 6 3-pointers en route to being named state championship game MVP.
"My dad taught me how to shoot," said Lilly, the son of former Bishop College star Shannon Lilly who once scored 60 points in a game. "You just have to go in with a lot of confidence and just focus."
Johnson added: "We think we've got one of the best guards in the city. We know what he can do."
When Lilly wasn't knocking down jumpers, Franklin was scoring. The New Mexico State signee finished with 15 points and also showed his worth as a defensive presence. He was assigned to guard University of Texas signee Julien Lewis of La Marque and held him to a sub-par first-half performance.
Oscar Lewis finished with eight points, but it was the overall intangibles that made his impact so great. In addition to eight points, he also had eight steals and four rebounds. Lewis also finished with a team-high four assists.
The "Big Three" of Jones, Williams and Henry combined for 32 points. Jones had 19 points and nine rebounds, and he cashed in on 13 of 14 free throws.
"They're a great team. They deserved to be No. 1 or No. 2 all year," La Marque coach Cedric Mason said about Kimball. "I don't think we did a good job of crowding their guys. When you play a team like that, you have to make them put it on the floor."
Kimball raced out to a 13-2 lead in the first four minutes of play, as Lilly scored 10 of the 13 points. The Knights led, 42-30, at halftime and appeared to cruise to victory. However, La Marque (33-5) staged a comeback in the second half and managed to get within three with less than two minutes remaining.
Lewis -- who finished with 26 points, six rebounds and four steals -- was clutch for the Cougars in the fourth quarter until he fouled out with 43 seconds left to play.
"These guys did a tremendous effort," Mason said. "They held their heads up and believed, but they just fell short."
Kimball would ice the game with something that has been an Achilles' heel -- free throws. The Knights made 14 in a row to close the game, and it was Jones who did the bulk of the scoring.
"They gave their best, and that's all I could ask for," Johnson said. "A lot of these guys played together in middle school, and they told us when they got to Kimball that they were going to win a state championship."
Johnson added: "We were all about bringing the trophy back to Oak Cliff at Westmoreland [Road]."
Quevin Cams had 13 points, and DeQuentin Greer and Darrian Provost-Johnson combined for 21 points for La Marque.
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