On paper, Wednesday’s Class 6A girls basketball regional quarterfinal between Tompkins and Dulles might have looked one-sided. Dulles entered the game ranked No. 2 in the state; Tompkins No. 14. Tompkins had three losses, which is far from shabby. But Dulles had none.
On paper, Wednesday’s Class 6A girls basketball regional quarterfinal between Tompkins and Dulles might have looked one-sided. Dulles entered the game ranked No. 2 in the state by the Texas Girls Coaches Association; Tompkins No. 14. Tompkins had three losses, which is far from shabby. But Dulles had none.
Heck, even the first quarter seemed to mimic such prognostication as the Vikings took a four-point lead into the second quarter.
But that’s where all that ended. Tompkins impressively exerted its will over the next three quarters, doing so in a cool, calm, precise and controlled manner, to shock Dulles, 55-40, at the Merrell Center and advance to the regional semifinals for the second time in six seasons.
Tompkins (20-3) first outscored Dulles (24-1), 15-3, in the second quarter and then 29-22 in the second half to earn a fourth-round appearance against Shadow Creek this weekend.
The 55 total points were the third-most Dulles had surrendered all year.
“It was patience,” coach Tamatha Ray said. “Our girls did what we told them to do. We broke the press; Dulles had to get out of it. Once we got past the first level (of the defense), we were banking that we’d have 3-on-2 (offense) and we did. Our posts had to be ready, they took care of it and played great and put the ball in the net.”
The Falcons dismantled the Vikings’ zone defense in the second quarter with machine-like ball and player movement. The primary beneficiary was often senior post Kenzie Durnford, who scored 10 of her 15 points in the first half.
The four-year letterman added eight rebounds and three blocks.
“I didn’t want it to be my last game,” Durnford said. “I knew on offense, they’d find me if I was open. On defense, I knew I had to help. I did what I could.”
When Dulles scrapped the zone in the second half and went to its press and man defenses, senior guard Crystal Smith took over.
Smith scored 12 of her 15 points in the final two quarters and always had an answer whenever Dulles attempted to try and get back into the game.
“We hit some big shots and made sure our posts got the ball because they were getting points,” said Smith, who had four rebounds and three assists. “Even when they weren’t, it was still getting us points in other ways. Everybody touched the ball. We needed everybody tonight. The posts started it off and then us guards kind of finished things. As a team, we’re all feeding each other and having fun.”
Dulles likes to play fast and press and run. Ray knew that and game-planned for it. The players executed it to near perfection.
“Teams that run other teams usually don’t like to be run on, so our goal was to run on them and try and slow them down on defense,” Smith said. “Not play them hard, necessarily, because that’s what they want because they’re fast and they can go past you. We just never took ourselves out of the play.”
Once Dulles got behind, it panicked, rushed shots and forced passes.
“We put them in a position they didn’t want to be in,” Ray said. “It’s hard when you’re an undefeated team to have to play from behind. We knew if we could get a crack in the armor, it could unravel. We’ve been in that position, 12-0 in district, and it is hard to be undefeated at whatever level.
“They beat teams we got beat by,” Ray added. “They’ll look at that and probably feel they could get us. No matter how much the coach might be pleading to not overlook us, they’re kids and they look at common opponents and see George Ranch and Heights beat us and they beat them. It’s hard to go undefeated. To the team that’s not undefeated, I think it’s an intangible.”
One thing is for certain. It was Tompkins that played like it knew it was supposed to win.
“We were anxious, excited and just ready to play,” Durnford said. “I think it was a motivational thing for us. Like, let’s beat the undefeated team and give them their first loss. We did it, and I’m beyond proud of everyone.”
Smith and Durnford led Tompkins with 15 points apiece. Sophomore forward Fiyin Adeleye added eight points, four assists and three rebounds. Senior forward Ashley Ngene finished with seven points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Sophomore forward Loghan Johnson, the team’s leading scorer this season, twisted her ankle badly in the first quarter during a rough collision with a Dulles player. In pain and with an obvious limp, Johnson still played.
“I asked my guys if she could go or not, and they said yeah,” Ray said. “I asked her, what was she (pain-wise, on a scale of 1-10), seven, eight, nine? She said seven. I said she’d have to gut it up for the seniors, and she did. Super gritty performance.”
Johnson finished with just five points but was dominant on the glass with a game-high 10 rebounds to go with four assists. She said the pain was at about a “five” after the game, but an “eight or nine” during it.
“It was so important to me,” Johnson said. “I knew they needed me on the floor, and I did everything I could to help my team win.”
It’s that selflessness and all-for-one mentality that defines this Tompkins team. As a result, the Falcons are enjoying their finest season since 2015-16.
“This team is historic,” Smith said. “We have a lot of people who want to see us win and prove people wrong and we’re banding together. We want to see everybody succeed and do it for our coaches and do it for Tompkins High School.”
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