AP NEWS

Thunderbirds soar on step closer to state berth

March 2, 2019

Wagner junior DeMarcus Hendricks distinguished himself as one of the area’s top football players. A defensive end, he was a cornerstone during the Thunderbirds’ historic run last fall to the Class 5A Division I state semifinals.

Hendricks showed Friday he’s not too shabby on the basketball court, either.

A 6-foot-3 forward, Hendricks’ inside presence and early energy helped propelled Wagner past Laredo Martin 76-54 in a Region IV-5A semifinal contest at Littleton Gym.

The Thunderbirds (31-5) will play Corpus Christi Miller at 2 p.m. Saturday at Littleton Gym for the regional title and a berth in the UIL Class 5A state tournament. Miller edged Sam Houston, 69-67.

It’s a position many predicted Wagner would find itself. Hendricks helped set the tone, scoring five of his team’s first seven points as the Thunderbirds overcame early resistance from Martin. He finished with 13 as Wagner never trailed and led by as many as 27.

“I just wait for my moment and keep playing hard,” Hendricks said. “We’ve just got to get through adversity. That’s what we practice on. Me and my team never freak out. We always play hard.”

Wagner took control in the second quarter, outscoring Martin 24-14 for a 35-24 advantage. Journee Phillips led the Thunderbirds with 10 points - all in the second quarter, including a jumper at the halftime buzzer. Phillips tallied 20 points, while Jalen Jackson had 13 and Kaijon Thornton contributed 11.

In the first semifinal, Corpus Christi Miller held off Sam Houston (25-9), which had the ball with 6.7 seconds left to play and a chance tie or win but turned the ball over as time expired.

The Hurricanes, who had a 12-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time since Jan. 8, trailed 69-61 with 1:42 left before putting together a spirited comeback. Tyrese Wolford and De Angeles Reed drained back-to-back 3-pointers only 30 seconds apart and Sam Houston gained possession after Miller (29-10) missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity.

Region IV-6A: Alijah Comithier poured in 22 points and Langston Love added 15 as Steele pulled away from Edinburg Vela 68-58.

The Knights (29-8) advanced to a regional final for the third time and will face Laredo Nixon at 2 p.m. Saturday at Northside ISD Sports Gym. They are 2-0 in such games, winning in 2013 and 2016.

Region IV-3A: In Seguin, the most anticipated all-District 26-3A showdown became reality.

Cole drubbed Santa Rosa 79-48, and Randolph topped Odem 53-38 to advance to the Saturday’s 2 p.m. regional final.

It will be the third meeting this season between the teams. Cole won 64-60 on Jan. 11, and Randolph prevailed 68-65 in overtime on Jan. 29.

Cole (33-2) avenged last year’s regional-final loss to Santa Rosa in a big way as Vincent Iwuchukwo had 17 points. Cole outscored Santa Rosa 44-18 during the second and third quarters.

Randolph built a sizable first-half advantage vs. Odem and never looked back as Austin Nunez scored 24 points and Thyrell McCline added 10.