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Brandeis, Wagner, Cole playing in UIL boys basketball tournament this week

Brandeis has reached the state semifinals for the first time since it opened in 2008.
Credit: Photo by Antonio Morano (bit.ly/XR79FT) / Special to KENS5.com 
Wagner coach Rodney Clark has led the Thunderbirds to the UIL boys basketball state tournament three times in the last four years.

SAN ANTONIO — And then there were three.

Brandeis, Wagner and Cole each won regional titles Saturday to earn berths in the University Interscholastic League boys basketball state tournament this week at the Alamodome.

Wagner is making its third state-tournament appearance in four years and fifth since opening in 2005. Wagner lost in the Class 5A final last year. 

The Thunderbirds (35-5) play defending champion Mansfield Timberview (29-8) in the 5A semifinals Thursday at 7 p.m.

Timberview, also in the state tournament for the third time in four seasons, beat Wagner 77-64 in last year's title game.

"We had 12 seniors and 14 returning, total, from last year's team," Wagner coach Rodney Clark said. "They lost (in the state final) last year, so they figured that we could get back if we took care of what we needed to care of. 

"We played some very good teams in tournaments early, and the guys understood they could play with anybody and they could win games, tough games, against some really good teams."

The UIL tournament, which moved from Austin to San Antonio in 2015, tips off Thursday morning at the Alamodome and ends Saturday with championship games in all six UIL classifications.

As concerns continue to grow regarding the coronavirus outbreak, the UIL said Tuesday that it has been in regular communication with governmental agencies that are monitoring the virus. No cancellations or postponements are anticipated for the UIL tournament.

While making the state tournament has become a habit for Wagner, it's a new experience for Brandeis. The Broncos beat Judson 75-68 on Saturday to become the first Brandeis team since the school opened in 2008 to compete at the state level.

Brandeis (33-3) faces defending champion Duncanville (29-5) in the 6A semifinals Friday at 7 p.m.

Cole, the alma mater of NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal, plays Peaster in the 3A semifinals Thursday at 3 p.m. O'Neal led the Cougars to the Class 3A, now 4A, state championship in 1989. Cole's title capped a 39-0 season.

JaSean Jackson and Journee Phillips scored 20 and 14 points, respectively, to lead Wagner to a 64-48 victory against Harlan in the Region IV-5A title game at Northside Sports Gym. The Thunderbirds haven't lost in 2021, winning 17 straight since falling to Kerrville Tivy in a District 26-5A game on New Year's Eve.

Wagner, which dropped to 5A at the start of the 2018-19 school year, lost to Cypress Falls 63-57 in the 6A championship game in 2017. The Thunderbirds fell in the 5A (now 6A) state semifinals in 2009 and 2010. Jordan Clarkson and Andre Roberson, both in the NBA now, played on the 2009 and 2010 teams.

Clark has coached at Wagner since the Judson ISD school opened. He was an assistant coach under Clifford Ellison, who guided the Thunderbirds to their first two state tournaments, for seven seasons before succeeding him in 2012.

Clark spent most of Sunday watching film of Mansfield Timberview and putting together a scouting report. Timberview advanced to the state tournament with a 64-62 win over Burleson in the Region I-6A title game.

"It's going to be a good game," Clark said. "Everybody was kind of counting Timberview out because they didn't have the same guys and were struggling early in the season and weren't winning as many games. 

"A lot of times you can't look at a team's schedule at the beginning of the year and judge them. You have to wait until it gets into the meat of the schedule, the second half of district and the playoffs. They're going to be big and physical. We're just going to try to wear them down."

UIL Boys Basketball State Tournament

Thursday-Saturday, Alamodome

(Schedule for San Antonio-area teams)

Class 6A semifinals: Brandeis (33-3) vs. Duncanville (29-5), Friday, 7 p.m.

Class 5A semifinals: Wagner (35-5) vs. Mansfield Timberview (29-8), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Class 3A semifinals: Peaster (34-5) vs. Cole (32-6), Thursday, 3 p.m.

Other Class 6A, 5A and 4A State Semifinals

6A: Dickinson (32-5) vs. Wylie (32-7), Friday, 8:30 p.m. 

5A: Lancaster (36-1) vs. Fort Bend Hightower (33-5), Thursday, 8:30 p.m.

3A: Coldspring Oakhurst (36-4) vs. Dallas Madisobn (26-8), Thursday, 1:30 p.m.

Saturday’s Finals

 3A, 10 a.m.; 5A, 3 p.m.; 6A, 8:30 p.m.

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