ROCKWALL, Texas — Though many had tried, no Life Waxahachie High School basketball team before the one that stepped onto the court on Friday had made it past the regional semifinal round of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) playoffs.
Not in girls, boys or in three different classifications.
The Mustangs became the first team in school history to reach the regional final round on Friday, throttling Daingerfield High School 54-40 at Rockwall Heath High School Gymnasium.
"It feels great to finally get to the finals," said LHS senior Kensen Vaughan. "It's the first time we've done it, and hopefully, we can go a couple of rounds deeper and make it last a little longer."
The Mustangs dominated Daingerfield in nearly every statistical category. Behind sophomore forward Robin White's 13 boards and senior Jonathon Hurst's nine, they outrebounded the Tigers 45-29.
"I really don't know why we start every game like that," White said about his team's one-point deficit entering the second quarter. "We heard they like to offensive rebound and I just wanted to help my team win and go get them."
White had seven offensive rebounds — three in the first quarter — that led directly to Mustang points. Any offensive production LHS mustered on Friday was overshadowed by the smothering defense laid on the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches No. 25 team.
Until the fourth quarter, where the Tigers shot a game-high 50 percent from the field, Daingerfield's most successful quarter may have been during another game.
The Mustangs defense held the Tigers to 33 percent in the first, nine percent in the second and 27 percent in the third quarter, allowing only 22 points through 75 percent of the game's play.
Mustang head coach Eddie Berumen said it's his players' continual buy-in to their culture of basketball that's allowing them to be so successful, despite having youth at several key positions.
"This is a special group," he said. "It's that 'we, not me' mindset. They've all bought in, from player No. 1 to player No. 15. They're all willing to do the little things. Jonathon was a calming force and a great example of what we are: hustle, determination and togetherness."
The Mustangs were scheduled to play the Region II Final at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Rockwall Heath High School against Van Alstyne High School, the TABC's No. 7 ranked boys 3A team, after press time.
"We're going to need all of that to beat Van Alstyne," Berumen continued. "They're a really good basketball team at almost every position. They're the team to beat and the one everyone picked to win this thing."