AUSTIN — So much has happened in the sports world since the White Oak boys basketball team last played in the state tournament.
But this morning, the second-ranked Roughnecks (35-1) will compete at state for the first time since 1957 when the Roughnecks meet defending champion and top-ranked Idalou (30-5) in the Class 2A semifinals. The matchup is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the University of Texas’ Frank Erwin Center.
“It’s just neat for the whole community,” White Oak coach Ron Boyett said. “I guess we had 500 tickets and they sold out (quickly). I think people are going to try and go down and get them there.”
The winner between White Oak and Idalou will meet either fifth-ranked San Antonio Cole (31-5) or No. 8 Brock (29-7) in the championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday. Cole and Brock tangle at 8:30 a.m. today.
White Oak’s history includes state titles in 1953 and 57 and a state appearance in ‘56 — but nothing at the UIL’s highest level since. But the Roughnecks finalized the long-awaited return with their victory against powerhouse Kountze in the 2A Region III final last weekend at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.
“In my backyard shooting, I’ve always dreamed about playing at the (Erwin Center,” said senior Caleb Carr, the Roughnecks’ leading scorer. “The chance to step out on that court my senior year is a great feeling.”
White Oak’s only loss of the season came against Clarksville, which will compete for the 1A Division I crown Saturday.
The Roughnecks have showcased an ability to overcome deficits, including an 11-point hole to begin the fourth quarter against Kountze before pulling through 65-63.
The roster includes Carr, senior forward Jerred Whisenhunt, junior forward Levi Yancy, senior guard Ian Story, sophomore guard Slade Sutton, junior guard Skylar Sutton, senior guard Chadd Johnston, junior guard Kris Anderson, sophomore forward Josh Benson, sophomore guard Dylan Gale, junior guard Josh Hood and sophomore guard Cass Carr.
It also consists of junior guard Carson Andrews, junior guard Jordan DeAguero, sophomore forward Hayden Nichols, sophomore forward Gabe Michael and junior guard Clay Hunter.
Idalou, meanwhile, advanced to Austin with a 52-49 win against Jim Ned in the regional finals. The Wildcats beat Tatum in last season’s championship game.
Tyler’s Lee Back At State
Tyler native and Robert E. Lee graduate Hosea Lee will guide Roxton into the 1A Division II semifinals for the second straight season today. The second-ranked Lions (29-6) meet No. 9 Calvert (25-7) at 7 p.m. at the Erwin Center.
The winner will face either fifth-ranked Lenorah Grady (30-5) or No. 18 Graford (27-9) — which play at 2 p.m. today — for the title at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Roxton captured the Region III championship last Saturday at Tyler Junior College’s Wagstaff Gymnasium. The Lions, who prior to last season hadn’t been to state since 1962, beat archrival Dodd City, 57-51, in the regional final and top-ranked Laneville, 68-63, in the semifinals.
Lee won a state title at Gainesville in 2002 and has also coached at Lancaster, Wilmer-Hutchins and Longview, among other places.
The Roxton-Calvert matchup will be sandwiched between the 5A semifinals, which include No. 16 San Antonio Warren (35-5) taking on second-ranked Fort Bend Travis (35-3) at 3:30 p.m. and No. 1 Flower Mound Marcus (37-2) meeting Garland Naaman Forest (29-7) at 8:30 p.m.
The 5A final is set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday.