San Augustine vs. Mumford – Thursday 10 a.m. Erwin Center Austin, Texas
"Forty years has been a long time," said San Augustine head coach Tory Barnes. "And this has been a long time coming."
Painted on the wall of the San Augustine high school gym is a constant reminder of how long it has been. The 1973 championship was 40 years ago this year, but the Wolves aren't happy with just being the first team back.
"We aren't going all the way to Austin just for the show," said senior Al Horton. "This is a business trip first, then vacation after we finish."
Junior big man Dez Randle explains why they are not nervous, despite heading to state where they will play in a 15,000 seat venue in the Frank Erwin Center against an undefeated Mumford squad.
"We just know our potential and what we are capable of," said Randle. "And so we are not worried about who we face."
Expectations have actually been put on this group of students for years now, even before they reached the high school level.
"This group was labeled in junior high to make it to a state championship" said Barnes. "I think most people thought it would be in football, never thought it would be basketball, but ironically it is basketball. And it has been an amazing run for this group of kids. They have been winning ever since they were in the 8th grade."
The kids admit it will be nice to see their hard work pay off.
"We have been going through this since we were in little dribblers," said Horton. "We have always gone at each other in practice and now it's all paying off in Austin. It is like a graduation gift before graduation."
The next step towards a state title starts Thursday at 10 a.m. when they face Mumford in the semifinals.
Douglass vs. Water Valley – Friday 7 p.m. Erwin Center Austin, Texas
Also making the trip to Central Texas are the Douglass Indians. Tuesday the Indians actually practiced at SFA to prepare themselves for the larger arena in Austin.
Tuesday there was also a pep rally at school for the team. The Indians are soaking up the moment of making another school first.
"It is something new, something I have never experienced. It is something Douglass have never experienced," said junior Timothy Ham. "I think I'll look back and I'll be proud because I'll have something to show my kids and tell my kids about."
Even though this is the first team from Douglass to make the final four, the guys say they still want to make a few more school firsts before this week is over.
"They are not satisfied with just making it," said head coach Mark Leuschner. "We really expected to be here believe it or not and we are hoping to make the most of it. We always wanted to play as long as the UIL will let us."
"There are so many teams that start off the playoffs and we are one of the last four, the final four, that is amazing," said senior Reed Westbrook. "That is like a dream come true. There are four teams left but only one is going to get what they want. That is who we want to be and we are not going to stop or be satisfied unless we get ring."
Douglass tips off against Water Valley (33-2) at 7 p.m. on Friday.