Randall falls in a wild ride to Silsbee in UIL Class 4A state semifinals

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Randall guard KJ Thomas goes in for a layup against Silsbee’s Dre’lon Miller during a UIL Class 4A state semifinal on Friday afternoon at the Alamodome in San Antonio. [Robbie Rakestraw/ For Press Pass Sports]
SAN ANTONIO – The records will show Randall departed the 2024 UIL state boys basketball tournament in the Class 4A semifinals losing to Silsbee, 75-68.

The records will be correct showing the seven-point loss.

But the records won’t show the story behind these special 2024 Raiders and their courageous coach, or the up-and-down, well-played, strong effort against Silsbee Friday afternoon in The Alamodome.

Randall finishes its season 34-4 and for the second consecutive season reached the state semifinals, the only two times in Randall history since the doors opened in 1988.

“We didn’t achieve our goal that’s why we have tears and disappointment,” said Randall coach Leslie Broadhurst, who sat on the bench and helped interim coach Trevor Johnson just weeks after having brain surgery to remove a tumor. “These are great guys and great players. We did a lot of great things for our school. I can’t tell you how proud I am of them. That was fun.”

Athletic Silsbee moves to 30-9 and will meet two-time defending state champion Oak Cliff Faith Academy at 7 p.m. Saturday for the 4A championship.

“We didn’t come here to do this (just win the semifinal),” said Silsbee senior 5-10 guard Lamarcus Bottley Jr., who scored a game-high 23 points and part of trio of guards who led the way. “Our goal is to win it all.”

This one was highly entertaining as Randall and Silsbee stuck with what they do best and that’s get out and run and try to score quickly.

Randall had to play a little different than it had most of the year with its Division I-commit (University of Texas-El Paso) and all-time leading scorer KJ Thomas getting whistled for two fouls 3:29 into the game sitting out the remainder of the first quarter.

But the Raiders had players step up and in particular senior Devin Baccas, junior Tayesen Combs and junior 6-7 post Dawson Heider.

Baccas would score 16 and grab six boards, Combs added 18 points on four 3-pointers and made timely baskets and a steal that almost change the outcome of the game, while Heider was a strong presence inside finishing with a team-high seven rebounds and eight points.

Of course, when Thomas played, he was the focus of Silsbee attention and gave Randall a chance for the comeback win late.

Silsbee was led by guards Jared Harris, a Memphis commit, and the speedy 5-10 Lamarcus Bottley Jr. Harris was every bit as good as advertised scoring 21 on 9-of 17 shooting, making four steals, and throwing down two highlight dunks.

“I try and get at least one dunk a game for my team,” Harris said. “It seems to bring them energy.”

Tayesen Combs of Randall shoots a 3-pointer against Silsbee. [Robbie Rakestraw/ For Press Pass Sports]
But it was Bottley Jr. on run outs after several of Randall’s 17 turnovers that time and again led to frustrating easy points. Bottley Jr. led all scorers with 23 points making 10 of the 13 shots he attempted.

You get the picture. Back and forth this game went, up and down, pedal to the metal featuring athletic plays galore.

So with 12 lead changes and seven ties neither team was able to take control of the game for three quarters, even when Silsbee led by nine 64-55 with 4:12 to play the Raiders refused to make things easy. In fact Randall had the ball trailing by three with 34 seconds to play and a chance to tie the game.

The Raiders strong late run was started by a pair of Baccas scores with a drive in the lane and then a fastbreak basket.

Thomas then showed why he is one of the greatest to ever play in the Amarillo-area.

Thomas made a pair of free throws, a 3-pointer in transition, picked up his 4th foul, scored on a sweet spin move and made two free throws scoring nine consecutive points.

After Thomas’ final two made free throws with 56 seconds remaining cut the Tigers lead down to 71-68, Silsbee tried to inbound against the Raiders full-court pressure.

Combs leaped in the air stealing the inbounds in front of the Raiders now ecstatic bench. He secured the ball and after a few passes Thomas ended up with the ball about four-feet behind the 3-point and Bottley Jr. in front of him.

Thomas dribbled between his legs, stepped back and let it fly with 34 seconds remaining. The ball bounced high off the front end of the rim, then came down on the back of the rim falling off.

Sislbee’s Bottley Jr. quickly scored after the miss on a breakout layup for a 73-68 lead and sealed the win.

“I definitely knew I wanted to take the shot,” Thomas said. “I guess I have to live with the results that came with it. But I’ll take that shot 10 times out of 10.”

Randall interim coach Johnson said “that’s who we want taking that shot. I thought it was going in. We knew exactly how Silsbee was going to play so there were no surprises. We want to get up and pressure them as much as possible, too. … credit to coach (Joe) Sigler they are a great team.”

Randall’s Devin Baccas (2) attempts to block a shot against Silsbee. [Robbie Rakestraw/ For Press Pass Sports]
Randall had a great season.

The Raiders tied a school record for wins in a season at 34 with the 2000-01 team, completed back-to-back appearances in the Final Four, and handled the heartbreaking and emotional month of seeing their coach go through the toughest of challenges.

Baccas and Thomas have been playing basketball together since third grade.

“KJ’s dad coached us in third grade,” Baccas said. “I’m sad to leave Randall. But I feel like we left a good legacy and feel like we got the guys ready for next year. Hopefully they can do the same thing and win it here next year.”

Thomas praised the faith Coach Broadhurst and Coach Johnson always had in him and will never forget his playing days at Randall.

“Randall means everything to me,” Thomas said. “These two coaches always believed in me even when I was a 5-5 freshman. Like Devin said, we played together since third grade so we just have a different bond type than most guys have. Saying good-bye to this team is really hard. This is all you have known the last four years so it’s going to be tough saying goodbye.”

Broadhurst was emotional, thoughtful and full of praise for this tram bringing him back to the state tournament.

“I could talk about the things this team has accomplished forever,” Broadhurst said, fighting back tears. “This a bond we have. I mean they are high character kids who do anything you ask them to do. I hate to be ball baby up here, but I love them to death. I tell them if I had daughter their age, I’d give her to any one of them to marry. They are that type of guys. To me that’s the greatest compliment a man can give another man.”

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