Storybook ending falls short for Randall in UIL Class 4A state semifinals

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Randall’s K.J. Thomas splits Oak Cliff Family defenders during a UIL Class 4A state semifinal game on Friday afternoon at San Antonio’s Alamodome. [Photo courtesy Robbie Rakestraw]
SAN ANTONIO- A storybook season came to an end for Randall despite a gutsy effort against Oak Cliff Faith Family as the Raiders fell 67-47 in a University Interscholastic League Class 4A state semifinal at San Antonio’s Alamodome on Friday afternoon.

The Raiders see a historic season close at 28-10 while Faith Family (31-3) will defend its Class 4A state crown on Saturday.

“We knew we had a big task ahead of us,” Randall head coach Leslie Broadhurst said. “I really thought we had a fight in us like we had all season. This was a great experience for us.”

In a game where not many gave Randall a chance against powerful Faith Family, the Raiders played like a wide-eyed team making their first appearance at the state tournament. The Eagles established early dominance on a putback dunk by 6-foot-11 Doryan Onwuchekwa off the opening tip. The Raiders then struggled throughout the first half with Faith Family’s extreme height advantage and shooting inside the massive Alamodome going 2-of-17 in the first quarter and only 5-of-30. With all that mixed in Randall found itself down 33-15 at the break.

“We got off to a slow start,” Broadhurst said. “We just didn’t have it going the first half and we haven’t done that all year. A lot of that probably had to do with Faith Family. That dug us in a hole.”

Randall’s K.J. Thomas takes a shot over two Faith Family defenders. [Photo courtesy Randy Rakestraw]
Faith Family had a chance to put Randall away early in the third quarter. The Eagles went on a 9-0 in the first two minutes building the biggest lead of the contest, 42-15. Instead of folding, Randall standout guard K.J. Thomas and his team finally started knocking down buckets. Thomas, who had 10 in the first half, scored 12 in the third quarter as the Raiders closed the gap 50-31. Thomas kept shooting and shooting in the fourth as Randall was able to knock the lead down to 56-43 with 4:40 left in the game before finally running out of gas.

“We were playing a really good team,” Broadhurst said. “But we’re a really good team or we wouldn’t be here. I really believe that. We were able to learn a lot of things and we knew we wouldn’t quit. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

Thomas echoed Broadhurst’s comments.

“It took a bit to get used to shooting in there,” Thomas said. “There was a lot of nerves. That’s no excuse but we should have played better from the jump. But we did play hard and left it all out there.”

Thomas scored a game-high 33 under the bright lights on 11-of-34 shots and was 6-of-15 from downtown. New Mexico signee and Faith Family post player Jadyn Toppin blistered Randall inside scoring 26 points with 15 rebounds for a double-double. Teammate Onwuchekwa also had a double-double with 19 points and 13 boards.

The Randall Raiders end the year at 28-10 overall. [Photo courtesy Randall Rakestraw]
Despite the loss, Broadhurst relished in his first opportunity to coach at state in his 41 years of doing what he loves. Broadhurst made history in his 35th year at Randall taking the Raiders to their first ever state tournament. Fans, family and multiple former players were also in attendance to see the very likeable and legendary coach do his thing on the Alamodome floor.

“We had a lot of former players here in the Alamodome,” said Broadhurst, who has 667 career wins at Randall. “We had guys here that played 30 years ago. This experience is for all of them and us. We have a close-knit family. I have every picture of every former team hanging in the hallway. I’m proud of this team to get here. I’ve coached 41 years and I’m finally here. We’ll learn from this, and we’ll be back.”

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