The Booker T. Washington High School boys basketball team is no stranger to postseason success under coach Vincent Grayson, having reached the regional tournament four times this decade.
However, the Eagles remain unable to break through to the UIL state tournament in his tenure. Their drought continued in heartbreaking fashion earlier this week.
The Eagles’ season ended with an 84-83 loss to the Silsbee Tigers on Tuesday night in a Region III-4A quarterfinal at Crosby High School. Washington finished with a 15-19 record.
After facing a six-point halftime deficit against the Tigers, who have won two of the last three 4A state championships, Washington clawed back to tie the game with less than one minute remaining before a Silsbee free throw with less than five seconds left provided the winning point.
It was a season full of inconsistency for the Eagles, who sat at 9-18 and 4-6 in District 23-4A play following a Feb. 4 loss to eventual district champion Yates.
However, they rebounded to win the final four games of the regular season over Kashmere, Furr, Wheatley and Scarborough to sneak into the playoffs. Upon reaching the postseason, Washington defeated West Columbia and Hamshire-Fannett before Tuesday’s nail-biting loss.
Looking ahead to next season, Washington must replace some firepower. The Eagles will lose two of their top three scorers from this season in Walter Potts (14.2 points per game) and Mikal Smith (10.9 ppg). Smith was also the team’s leading rebounder at 6.4 boards per contest.
The Eagles also lose defensive standouts Bobby Betts (4 steals per game) and Ethan Thomas (2.8 steals per game) to graduation. Betts also led the Eagles with nearly five assists per game this season.
But not all is lost. Among Washington’s returnees will be overall leading scorer Kendrick Wyatt (15.4 ppg), who was also the team’s second-leading rebounder with more than six per game.