The Teague boys’ basketball team cleared the regional semifinal hurdle that had tripped them the last two seasons, but the Lions hit another one in the form of Jarrell’s dominating front court.
Third-ranked Jarrell controlled the rebounding category and limited No. 6 Teague’s easy baskets, leading to the Cougars’ 74-58 victory in the Class 3A Region III final on Saturday afternoon at the Midway ISD Arena.
Jarrell 6-foot-7 center Qyrique Dabon scored 29 points and pulled down nine rebounds to lead the Cougars (32-3), who advance to the Class 3A state tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio later this week.
Cougars forward A.J. Smith grabbed 15 rebounds, pacing Jarrell as it won the boards, 35-23, and scored 14 of their first 41 points on put-back baskets.
“Rebounding has been one of our Achilles heels in the playoffs,” Teague coach Dexter Patrick said. “I was preaching the rebound deal, at least put a hand on it, make an effort. We stood around a lot when the ball went up in the first half.”
Guard Keshawn Rice led the Lions with 14 points, forward Rodney Kuykendall added nine and guards Jaylon Davis and Tyrese Heard each had eight.
Teague has reached the regional tournament each of the past three seasons, falling in the regional semifinal in its two previous trips.
The Lions (25-9) broke through on Friday with a 78-71 victory over Kountze.
But Teague was playing from behind from early in the regional semifinal.
Dabon made a layup and had a put back and Jarrell guard Kyle Spencer hit a 3-pointer to give the Cougars an 8-2 lead through the first half of the first quarter.
Dabon had 14 points at halftime, including a 3-point play midway through the second quarter that put Jarrell ahead, 28-15.
“I don’t have a guy over 6-1 and they kind of played timid at the beginning of the game,” Patrick said. “And then you let (Dabon) get going and get some confidence that he can’t be stopped, it’s going to be a hard game for us.”
Teague finished the first half on a 6-0 run to cut the Cougars’ lead to 33-26 at the break.
But Jarrell responded with an 18-3 run that took up most of the third quarter. The Cougars surged ahead by 20 when guard T.J. Sykes hit a pair of free throws with 42 seconds remaining in the period.
The Lions battled back in the fourth quarter and cut Jarrell’s lead to nine when Rice hit a 3-pointer with 1:29 left.
But Teague didn’t have enough time to climb all the way back.
The Cougars held on by hitting 15 of 17 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Patrick said he appreciated his four seniors for helping to establish Teague at the regional tournament and pledged to get back.
“We got over that semifinal, punched through and got to this game,” Patrick said. “I’ve got a young team, hopefully we’ll get over that hump.”