SAN ANTONIO — Nick Smith sat at the Alamodome podium on Thursday night. His eyes, a bit bloodshot, welled with tears — either from the outcome of the game that had just unfolded, or just from pure exhaustion. Sweat drenched his all-black outfit.
“I just haven’t had much sleep,” Smith said through a raspy voice. “I just haven’t had much sleep. Probably about 40 minutes. I gave everything I had in this game.”
The final moments of Kimball’s 66-64 loss to Beaumont United in the 5A state semifinals ran through his head.
“I think right there, I blanked out a little,” Smith said. “I couldn’t …”
Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa, positioned to his left, cut him off.
“Coach, don’t beat yourself up,” Hinojosa said. “The last 24 hours have been emotional for all of us.”
On Wednesday night — a day before Kimball’s highly anticipated state championship rematch with Beaumont United — an accidental shooting at a San Antonio athletic complex injured an 18-year-old Kimball student and led to the arrest of one of the team’s players. Kimball senior Kyron Henderson, 18, was arrested Wednesday night on two felony gun charges, according to court records.
Hinojosa said the player was immediately removed from the team, and because of the district’s speedy response, the UIL felt no further disciplinary action was needed. The game was still on.
“You think about a team as a family,” Hinojosa told The News at halftime of Thursday’s game. The injured student, a team trainer, was in attendance for the game, Hinojosa said.
“When someone in a family does something wrong, criminal or whatever, you don’t punish the whole family,” he continued. “They are a family, and they deserve it. There’s no excuses for what happened. We don’t want to make any light of it. But, because they are a family, the next man up stepped up.”
Hours after Hinojosa held an 11 a.m. news conference in Dallas confirming the game would be played, Beaumont United ended Kimball’s season in heartbreaking fashion for the second-straight year.
Trailing Kimball by one point with under 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Beaumont United (35-3) sophomore Clarence Payia stole the ball from Kimball (30-9) senior Chauncey Gibson at half court, drove to the rim and was fouled. He hit both free throw attempts — which proved to be the game-winners — with 16 seconds left, and junior Wesley Yates III hit another with five seconds left.
Kimball senior Trae Clayton missed a would-be game-tying layup with nine seconds left in the game, and Kimball turned the ball over on an inbound attempt with 4.4 seconds left.
The game was Kimball’s 13th trip to the state tournament, and sixth since 2011.
“I take responsibility,” Smith said of the game’s final moments. “I know there’s some things that happened at the end. I thought I was pretty focused going in [to the game]. That last 20 minutes or so, I couldn’t think. It’s been a long 24 hours. I haven’t had much sleep.”
Beaumont United beat Kimball in last year’s 5A state championship game 71-70 on a game-winning 3-pointer from then-junior Terrance Arceneaux in overtime. Yates III, a four-star recruit, scored a team-high 20 points in Thursday’s win. Kimball senior Arterio Morris, a five-star Texas signee, scored a game-high 21 points.
Kimball used an 11-0 run that spanned the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth to take control of a game which was tied at halftime. The lead changed hands five times in the third quarter, but a 7-0 Kimball run to close the frame gave it a 50-43 lead headed into the fourth.
“It was true will and determination,” Smith said of the run. “It’s just something I do. I just find ways to get the best out of them. It wasn’t any X’s and O’s, it was just about stops.”
Kimball scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take an 11-point lead — its largest since it led 14-2 in the first quarter — and seize the momentum that appeared up for grabs in the third quarter.
But Beaumont United, ranked 25th in the country by ESPN, closed the game on a 12-2 run in the final two-and-a-half minutes of play. Kimball’s offense stalled as Beaumont United applied extra defensive pressure to Morris, and Yates III scored six points in the final 2:23 to pull his team back.
Beaumont United — which outscored Kimball 15-7 in the second quarter to tie the game at half — will play the winner of Mansfield Timberview and Boerne Champion in the 5A state final on Saturday.
“My heart goes out to Kimball,” Beaumont United coach David Green said. “Great team, great year. Both teams played to the end.”
1/16Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa presents the state finalist trophy to Kimball guard Arterio Morris (2) after a Class 5A state semifinal game at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, Thursday, March 10, 2022. Beaumont United defeated Kimball 66-64 to advance to the state championship.(Elias Valverde II / Staff Photographer)
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