SAN ANTONIO -- Senior point guard C.J. Smith scored a game-high 24 points, controlled the game with his dribble and defense and emotionally led his Mansfield Timberview Wolves to a UIL Boys 5A State Championships Saturday afternoon over San Antonio Wagner, 77-64, at the Alamodome.
Smith, the shortest guy on the Timberview roster at 5-foot-9, stood out for his tenacious defense and his uncanny ability to jet through the lane whenever he pleased for bucket after bucket. Timberview finished its title run 38-2 on the season.
“I can’t believe I’m the MVP of this game, my final game,” Smith said. “I grew up in Mansfield and to be able to bring this championship back home is really special.”
Smith’s performance was certainly special and propelled Timberview to now their second title in the past three years. “They defend, rebound and share the ball. When you do that, you’ve always got a chance to be great,” said Mansfield Timberview head coach Duane Gregory. “These guys went 19-0 and then lost a pair of games in about 18 hours. And then went 19-0. That’s quite an accomplishment and they’re quite a group of young men”
A definitive trend developed in the Alamodome Saturday – fast starts equal fantastic results. Mansfield Timberview used its nuclear blast of a start to take command of the game after one quarter, 29-10. After hitting their first three, San Antonio Wagner went scoreless for nearly six minutes as the Wolves built an insurmountable lead.
Senior guard Rodrigo Soares, junior guard Ahmad Richardson and senior guard Tristan Starkes took turns scoring from inside and out. A miss on one end resulted in a bucket on the other end in less time than it takes fans to start yelling for refs to call it both ways.
“That was a big hill for us to climb but our kids are tough and I knew we’d get our run as well,” said Wagner head coach Rodney Clark. “I’m frustrated for these kids. They played their hearts out and faced some adversity they couldn’t control.”
Clark was referring to some calls by the officials that he didn’t see eye to eye with. It led to a technical foul late in the game.
The game settled down a bit early in the second quarter for the hometown Thunderbirds thanks in large part to the efforts of junior forward Journee Phillips. His ability to elevate in heavy traffic finally gave Wagner some much-needed offense on one end and a shot contester on the other. Phillips short turnaround in the lane with 5:23 in the half made the score 30-13. Senior guard Jalen Jackson’s end to end layup cut the deficit to 15 and finally gave the San Antonio fans some hope that this one might worth sticking around for. Jackson’s spectacular And-One reverse lay up made it 34-22 with 3:21 left in the second quarter.
Wagner stormed to within six late in the third quarter behind Jackson and Phillips. But again and again it was Smith who held the answer and the ball in the palm of his hand.
“Defend. Run. Repeat. That’s our motto and that’s Mansfield Timberview basketball,” said a teary-eyed Gregory. “This bunch did that and the results speak for themselves.”