SAN ANTONIO — For at least another year, Cole's 1988-89 boys basketball team stands alone in school history.
Thirty years after the Cougars won state and finished 36-0 with a man-child named Shaquille O'Neal leading the way, Cole fell in the semifinals Thursday for the fifth time in six state-tournament appearances.
Behind by three at the half, Dallas Madison went ahead midway through the third quarter and never trailed again en route to a 43-33 victory over the Cougars in the Class 3A boys basketball semifinals at the Alamodome.
Freshman center Vincent Iwuchukwu, a rail-thin, 6-foot-10 freshman nicknamed "Baby Shaq," led the Cole scoring with 10 points. He also finished with eight blocks – four four on one possession – and seven rebounds.
"I've just got to come out next year and prove that we can hang with any team," Iwuchukwu said. "We messed up tonight. We're going to work this whole offseason. We're going to work in the summer and we're going to get better, and we're going to be feared by a lot of teams next year."
A crowd of 7,024 watched Madison (20-15) earn a spot in the 3A championship game against Brock (33-6) on Saturday at 10 a.m. Brock beat Winnie East Chambers 58-49 in the first 3A semifinal.
The University Interscholastic League boys state tournament started Thursday morning at the Alamodome, and ends with the 6A championship game Saturday night at 8:30.
Wagner played Sulphur Springs in the 5A semifinals later Thursday and Steele takes on Klein Forest in the 6A semis Friday night at 8:30.
Cole (34-6) reached the state tournament for the first time since 2012 under coach Noe Cantu, who completed his second season with the Cougars.
Forward Dominique Robinson led the Trojans with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He was the only Madison player scoring in double figures.
Cole led 15-12 at the half but was outscored 22-9 in the third quarter. Madison was up 34-24 going into the last period, and fought the Cougars fought to a 9-9 standoff in the final eight minutes.
Madison went to a full-court press in the third quarter that rattled Cole, which had six of its 20 turnovers in the period.
"Before the game, we talked about the turnovers snowballing, and I think that's what happened," Cantu said. "We kind of had a couple of turnovers and started panicking a little bit. It snowballed there for about a three-minute stretch.
"I thought, for the most part, we handled the press pretty well. But two or three minutes of bad possessions against Dallas Madison - it can be costly."
Cole cut the deficit to four (37-33) with 1:46 left on a jumper by Silas Livingston, but that's as close as the Cougars got before the Trojans scored the last six points of the game.
"Close but no cigar at the end," Cole senior forward Xavier Epps said. "They had a lot of energy and we expected that. They did what they did and they deserved to win."
Iwuchukwu combined with two other freshmen to score 25 of the Cougars' 33 points. Livingston came off the bench to tally nine points, and starter Trey Blackmore added six. Livingston gave the team a lift with his solid play on both ends of the court.
"He's been that kind of spark for us all year long," Cantu said. "I know he doesn't start. He's one of those guys that we look to as like he is a starter. He's got a lot of heart, a lot of energy. We like what he does when he comes off the bench. It's kind of instant offense for us, and I think that's been huge in our playoff run."
Neither team shot well for the game. Madison made 15 of 55 field-goal attempts for 27.3 percent and hit 3 of 15 shots from beyond the arc. Cole shot 33.3 percent overall (12-36) and was 2 of 11 from the three-point line.
The Trojans outrebounded the Cougars 39-35.