GARLAND — The dream season for Newman Smith’s boys basketball team has come to a close.
The unbeaten Trojans suffered their first and lone loss of the season Tuesday, falling to Dallas Kimball at Garland Naaman Forest in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A Region II playoffs, 101-73, in a battle between two of the state’s top 10 teams.
Smith, ranked No. 6 in 5A according to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, scored the game’s first point for its only lead of the night as the Knights (No. 8) countered with seven in a row and only continued the offensive onslaught from there.
Kimball scored 32 points in the opening frame to build a 19-point lead, and also eclipsed 30 points in the third quarter while knocking down 14 3-pointers on the night.
“It’s always tough after a loss,” said Perci Johnson, Smith head coach. “The biggest thing for us is to look back at where we started. The guys worked hard, it just wasn’t our night.
“To me, it was (Kimball’s) length. I didn’t realize how tall and long they are. That was a factor, but we also didn’t get in a rhythm offensively or defensively.”
Arterio Morris, the No. 3-ranked sophomore in Texas according to 247sports.com, led the way for Kimball with 23 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while Marcus Bonner and reserve Demarcus Rolston followed with 20 points apiece.
Senior Bobby Smith III went out with a bang for Smith netting a game-high 27 points, however senior Jarren Cook managed only three points, which came in the final three minutes, in his final game with the green and gold.
Kimball started its 3-point barrage early, burying six from long range in the first quarter alone as the Knights surged in front with a 12-0 run to stretch a 19-11 lead to 31-11.
The lead would grow to as many as many as 25 at 44-19 in the second quarter, though Smith remained resilient and was able to trim the deficit to 51-34 courtesy of a hoop by Smith via Thibaut Tagnon.
Tagnon would finish with 11 points for Smith, while Domani Villaruel chipped in 19, including 13 in the first half.
The Trojans got to within as few as 13 on two occasions in the third quarter, once on a 3-pointer by Smith and later on a trifecta by Tagnon following a steal that prompted a Kimball timeout with the score 60-47 in favor of the Knights.
But Smith’s momentum was short-lived as Kimball countered with a 21-8 run for an 81-55 lead heading to the fourth.
Morris scored nine of his 23 in the third, while Lawrence posted 12 in the period, including a three before the buzzer that likely dashed any thought of a comeback Smith had.
“They were lights out,” Johnson said. “After the first half, we thought we weathered that storm and let’s go do it in the second half, but it didn’t stop. The shots kept coming. They shot the ball very well and we didn’t.”
Still, it was a banner season for Smith, which went unbeaten in the regular season en route to the District 11-5A title and reached the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
“Those seniors, it’s about tradition and they have left their mark,” Johnson said. “The hard work … the younger guys got to see that. In the morning, in the evening, they saw how hard they worked. And they’re not only good on the basketball court, but off the court as well. Academically, they’re strong, so there’s no worry about their futures going on from here.”
Meanwhile, storied Kimball — who won three state titles in four years beginning in 2011 — returns to the regional tournament for the first time since hoisting the trophy in 2014.