Carson Hughes’ steal and layup that followed with 15 seconds remaining propelled Keller into the Class 6A state tournament as the Indians held off Arlington Bowie 57-55 in Saturday’s Region I final at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center in Fort Worth.
Keller (32-2) will play at either 7 or 8:30 p.m. on Friday in the state semifinals. The UIL will announce the pairings Sunday.
Tied at 55-all, Arlington Bowie (28-11) was in position to take the last shot of the game. The Volunteers had the ball with 27 seconds left after Keller’s third player had fouled out.
Bowie walked the ball up the court, but a pass close to midcourt was grabbed by Hughes, who took it and scored.
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Keller guard and TCU signee R.J. Nembhard and coach Randall Durant talk about the win over Arlington Bowie. Nembhard scored 37 points to help the Indians make their first trip to the state tournament.
“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, great play,” said Keller coach Randall Durant, who is taking the Keller boys basketball team to the state tournament for the first time since the school opened 51 years ago. “We changed our defense on the fly and hollered it out. R.J. [ Nembhard ] jumped at the guy with the ball and forced him to throw it, and Carson did what he was supposed to do.”
After a Bowie timeout with six seconds left, the Keller defense force an extra pass and a 3-pointer by Volunteer guard Donoven Davenport just missed.
“We got what we wanted, but we wanted the first one,” said Bowie coach Allen Gratts. “They left us open in the corner and it just didn’t go in.”
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, great play. We changed our defense on the fly and hollered it out.
Keller coach Randall Durant, on what set up Carson Hughes’ steal and layup
Bowie’s Kyler Edwards and Davenport took turns shadowing Nembhard, which helped disrupt the Indians offense early as the Vols built a 12-4 lead with 3:29 left in the first quarter.
But Nembhard, a TCU signee, still poured in 37 points as the Indians battled back to trail 30-27 at the half.
Keller dominated the third quarter, going on a 21-3 run that was punctuated by a Nembhard dunk that gave the Indians a 48-35 lead with 1:45 left in the third quarter.
Bowie countered with a 13-0 run of its own and tied Keller at 48 with 5:30 left. Nine points came from Davenport, who finished with 13.
The teams traded scores from that point before Hughes’ heroics.
37 Of Keller’s 57 points by TCU signee RJ Nembhard, who also helped force the winning steal and layup
“Bowie has a great team and I’ve coached against Allen [Gratts] a long time,” Durant said. “We just made the last play.”
Hughes had 16 points for Keller and added four rebounds, an assist, and two of the Indians’ 10 steals. Keller guard Jared Bowman, who fouled out less than a minute into the fourth quarter, had six steals.
Edwards led Bowie in scoring with 18 points and added four rebounds and four assists, but fouled out with 2:27 left in the game.
“Tonight we just didn’t close it out,” Gratts said. “We made some mistakes down the stretch. We did some good things, but kind of fell asleep at the end and it cost us the ballgame.”