The Dallas Pinkston girls basketball team has been a thorn in the side of Kennedale, booting the Wildcats from the playoffs the past two seasons.
Kennedale was hoping the third time would be the charm, but the Vikings made it three straight holding off the Wildcats, 47-38, in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal Wednesday night at DeSoto HS.
Pinkston (24-5), ranked No. 23 in the Class 4A state rankings, advances to the Region 2 semifinals and awaits the winner of Thursday’s game between No. 7 Brownsboro (25-1) and No. 4 Sunnyvale (26-1).
The Wildcats were trying to reach the regional semifinals for the first time in seven years. Kennedale last missed the playoffs in 2001.
Kennedale (13-12) tied the game at 11 on a basket by Jayla Harvey with 6:28 left in the second quarter, but the Wildcats went cold after that and didn’t score again until the 5:59 mark of the third quarter.
Pinkston went on a 10-0 run during that span including picking up four steals on four consecutive Kennedale possessions.
The young Wildcats struggled protecting the ball suffering 15 steals and committing 10 turnovers on the night. The majority of the minutes for Kennedale are taken by three sophomores and freshman and a junior.
“Really we’re sophomores and freshmen,” said Kennedale coach Rhonda Jackson. “I told the girls at the beginning that we’re young, but we can’t play young because I knew that they were going to be pressing us.”
A basket by freshman Jayla Jackson-Allen, who led the Wildcats with a game-high 16 points, and a personal 6-point run by Kennedale sophomore Reagan Jackson (15 points) pulled the Wildcats to within six points at 25-19 with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
But that was as close as the Wildcats would get. Kennedale couldn’t get a bounce to go their way or a whistle.
Reagan Jackson entered the third quarter with one personal foul, but was called for three, controversial, charging fouls in three minutes starting at the 3:31 mark of the period. Sophomore Peyton Landry picked up her fourth foul with 3:21 left in the third.
“When you have two of your best players playing with four fouls in the third quarter they can’t play the type of defense that we’re accustomed to playing,” added Rhonda Jackson. “That doesn’t help when you’re playing really good guards like they have.”
Pinkston guards Victoria Flores (12 points), Dajarae Thomas (11) and Aaliyah Kinnard (9) not only led the Vikings in scoring, but also created havoc all night against the Wildcats.
“We’re young and in the beginning I had us playing a really, really competitive 5A and 6A schedule,” said Rhonda Jackson. “When you look at our record it’s really deceiving because I did that for a reason. I knew that we were going to make the playoffs according to our district and I knew the tough schedule would help us in the end.”
Reagan Jackson also contributed six rebounds and three steals. Sophomore Sarah Adejokun had four points, nine rebounds and four steals for the Wildcats.
“We have truly advanced so much and grown so much as a group and we started meshing and coming together as a team which is what we were trying to build on today, but again, I think the young-ness has gotten us,” added Rhonda Jackson.
The future is definitely bright at Kennedale.