SAN ANTONIO – The defending state champion Cole boys basketball team entered the Alamodome ready to take on Dallas Madison with a state title on the line in a matchup two years in the making. The Cougars and Trojans missed out on an opportunity to face each other for the 2020 title due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and each program entered this game as the first- and second-ranked teams in Texas.
The game lived up to the hype, but Cole came up short.
The Cougars erased a 10-point halftime deficit to lead late in the fourth quarter, but could not pull out a victory in a heartbreaking 53-51 loss to Dallas Madison on Saturday morning in the Alamodome. Four scorers finished in double figures for Cole, led by Trey Blackmore’s 14 points. Rodney Geter scored a game-high 19 points for the Trojans and was named the game’s MVP.
The Cougars started the game on the back foot. Geter scored six of the game’s first eight points, as Madison built an 8-0 lead. After a timeout, Blackmore got the Cougars on the board with a traditional three-point play, but the Trojans still controlled the flow of the game and led 15-6 after one. Kenny Atunrase scored a basket early in the second to cap a 7-0 run that pulled Cole within two, but the Trojans quickly pieced together a 6-0 run of their own to reestablish control. They entered halftime with a 29-19 lead.
Geter struck again early in the third quarter, as Dallas Madison built their largest lead of the game, 32-20, but Cole hit their stride on a hustle play. Dre Ray wrestled for a rebound under the basket, got the ball to Silas, who then found James Livingston for the first of his two three-pointers to make it a 35-27 game. After Geter committed an offensive foul, Blackmore converted another three-point play, and suddenly the defending champs were right back in it down 35-30. With 1:11 left in the frame, Ray drove inside for a layin that pulled Cole even for the first time at 37-37, and Blackmore added a triple from the wing with 18 seconds left, as the Cougars took a 40-39 advantage into the fourth quarter. Cole outscored the Trojans 21-10 in the third.
Both teams traded baskets in the final frame, until Atunrase put Cole in front 47-46 with a three-point play the old-fashioned way. Silas Livingston got a floater to fall and Ray scored on another driving layup to give the Cougars a 51-48 lead with 1:37 left in regulation. But on their next possession, Cole turned the ball over and Latrelle Wright made them pay by getting a friendly bounce for a three that tied the game at 51-51. The Cougars had another chance to take the lead, but lost control of the ball and committed a foul that sent Pierre Hunter to the line with 22 ticks left. His first attempt missed, but Kardae Turner hauled in the rebound and scored to go-ahead basket. Down by two in the final seconds, Blackmore circled around the perimeter and put up a step-back three-pointer at the buzzer, but it fell short. Dallas Madison stormed the court in celebration, as the Cougars looked on in disbelief.
“We ran a set, and they kind of blew it up,” Blackmore said. “I had to improvise. I got around my first man, another man stepped up. I saw the clock, and there were about two seconds left. I knew we needed a three, so I went for it.”
“I thought it was a great game,” Cole head coach Noe Cantu said. “They jumped out to a lead early. We battled back. That’s what great teams do. They just made a couple more plays at the end. We’ve been here four years in a row. It’s been a great run. I try to tell these guys, ‘Don’t ever take anything for granted.’ Success is not a continuum. Just because you are successful doesn’t mean you’re going to continue to be successful, and for these guys to battle and get here for four years and be in the state championship game three years in a row... It’s a lot tougher than people think.”
“We worked hard all season, we made it this far, and teams don’t usually make it this far,” Silas said. “I know the fans got our backs. I know my teammates got our backs. Even though we didn’t get the first-place trophy like we wanted, we still got second.”
Cole ends their remarkable season with a 32-9 overall record.
Check out highlights from tonight’s broadcast!