NEW BRAUNFELS -- The District 25-A runner-up Snook boys basketball team will get another shot at top-ranked Mumford after a 52-44 victory over 32-A champion Santa Maria in Class A Division I Region IV semifinal action Friday night at New Braunfels Canyon High School.
No. 25 Snook (22-8), making its first appearance in the regional championship since 2005, will battle fellow Brazos Valley and district-foe Mumford at Canyon at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Mumford is trying to reach state for the third time and win its first state title. Snook is one of the state's storied programs, with 10 state championships in 19 trips to the state tournament, both records.
"We have an idea what we're going to do against Mumford," Snook head coach Mike Junek said. "But we're going to have to play a whole lot better."
Snook continued its fine postseason play with a solid game against Santa Maria.
After taking a 2-0 lead on guard Keenan Brooks' jumper to start the game, Snook quickly fell behind in the first quarter behind the efficient shooting of the Cougars. Junior guard Felix Cantu hit three 3-pointers in Santa Maria's first five possessions to give the Cougars a 9-6 lead early in the first quarter. Snook forward Harlan Plumber cut the lead to 9-8 with two free throws on the next possession, but Santa Maria went on an 8-2 run to end the first quarter with a 17-10 Cougar lead and scored two quick baskets to start the second quarter and extended its lead to 21-10.
After that, the Bluejays fought their way back behind the strong play of guard Darrion Swain. Swain scored eight of his game-high 16 points during an 18-6 Bluejay run in the second quarter. The last of Swain's points during this run came off of a fast break layup with 1:30 left in the period that cut Santa Maria's lead to 27-26. Deon Hamilton gave the Bluejays a 28-27 lead heading into halftime with a basket on the next possession.
"[Swain] had a really good game," Junek said. "He was able to stop [Cantu]. He's our defensive specialist and he was able to get the ball to the hole.
"[Cantu] got tired and that was because of [Swain's] defense."
After a back-and-forth third quarter, Snook held a 41-38 lead heading into the fourth period. Swain got a steal and converted the fast break layup to extend the lead to 44-38 early in the quarter and Snook kept Santa Maria at an arm's length the rest of the way, never letting the Cougars make it a one-possession game. With the Bluejay lead at 46-41, a travelling violation by Snook with 1 minute, 36 seconds left allowed Santa Maria an opportunity to cut the lead to one possession, but a miss on the front end of a one-and-one preserved the Snook victory.
Swain grabbed eight rebounds and recorded two blocks and a steal and Brooks tied Swain for a game-high 16 points.
Snook 52, Santa Maria 44
SNOOK - Keenan Brooks 16, Austin Jackson 2, BJ Franklin 5, Deon Hamilton 4, Harlan Plumber 8, Darrion Swain 16, Justin Tarver 1.
SANTA MARIA -- Felix Cantu 10, Marco Aleman 16,Saul Rivera 1, Isaac Ortiz 2, Ronaldo Cantu 2, Joseph Aleman 4, Jose Carreon 9.
Santa Maria 17 10 11 6 -- 44
Snook 10 18 13 11 -- 52