The UIL boys basketball playoffs tipoff Monday and Tuesday, with area teams seeking a spot in the state tournament March 9-11 at San Antonio’s Alamodome.
Just like girls basketball, which started its postseason this week, the Metroplex has been well represented at the boys state tournament with DeSoto, Lancaster and Dallas Lincoln winning titles last season. Plano West, Lancaster and Parker County school Brock were UIL champions in 2015.
The last boys area teams to win UIL titles were North Crowley (5A) and Kennedale (3A) in 2008.
Class 5A Fort Worth Dunbar made its 15th UIL state appearance in 2016, while Kennedale (3A) made it in 2014.
Here are the top storylines going into the playoffs:
1. Can Eastern Hills, Trimble Tech or Wyatt bring Fort Worth success?
Dunbar missed the playoffs this season for just the third time since 1976. So can another team from Cowtown fill in for the Wildcats this time?
Eastern Hills (18-7) awaits the winner of Arlington Heights and South Hills, who play at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Azle in a fourth-place game in 7-5A.
Eastern Hills has won its most games since 2009-10, a stark turnaround from last season when they won five overall and just one in district play. The Highlanders go into the postseason with a 10-game winning streak and averaging 58 points per game.
Trimble Tech (20-9) won the District 7-5A title and plays the Richland Rebels (16-13) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Nolan Catholic. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 20 in 5A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, average 62 points per game.
Wyatt (22-8) faces the Grapevine Mustangs (21-15) in the first round. The Chaparrals average 64.8 points per game.
2. Will Lancaster three-peat?
Lancaster, the two-time 5A state champions, began the season ranked No. 1 in 5A by the TABC. But the Tigers have gone 19-12 and finished third in District 10-5A with a 7-7 record.
It’s a down year for the Tigers, who have won 30 or more games the past three seasons. Lancaster’s worst playoff run during that stretch was in 2014 when they went four rounds deep.
The Tigers first test this time is Cleburne, No. 2 in District 9-5A. The Yellow Jackets (24-8) are having their first 20-win season and playoff berth since 2009.
3. Trouble in 6A?
Only six teams from the Metroplex are ranked in the TABC Class 6A Top 25: Cedar Hill (2), Dallas Skyline (3), Garland Lakeview Centennial (6), Keller (14), Denton Guyer (16) and DeSoto (25).
At least one team from north Texas has advanced to the state tournament in the largest classification every year since 1999. The last time no Metroplex teams made it to state was 1998, when Midland, Pearland, Round Rock Westwood and San Antonio Taft were the 5A final four.
4. Area favorites?
Keller has only lost twice this season, once without star point guard and TCU signee R.J. Nembhard. The No. 14 Indians (27-2) meet Mansfield (17-16) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Richland.
The Indians could face playoff regular North Crowley (25-6) in the third round. The Panthers, who are averaging 70 points per game, host Abilene at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Justin Northwest (28-5), No. 18 in 5A, is averaging 64.8 points per game and wants a repeat trip to the regional quarterfinals as the Texans begin against Sherman at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Gainesville.
Other teams that could make playoff runs include 5A teams Saginaw Chisholm Trail (24-5), White Settlement Brewer (23-8), Birdville (22-8), Arlington Seguin (22-10), Waxahachie (24-6), Mansfield Timberview (25-7) and Kennedale (23-10).