Top-Seeded Girls Team in Texas Sent 7 Hours To Playoff Loss
Texas' University Interscholastic League did it again. Months after a series of controversial siting decisions in the state's well followed high school football playoffs, officials decided to send the top-ranked girls basketball team in Class 3A some seven hours across the state to play a game that it deserved to play on its turf ... only to see it lose to a team playing less than half that distance away, in a town it visits for occasional district matchups.
Kennedale (Texas) High's 59-53 loss to Abilene (Texas) Wylie High ended the Wildcats' season one hurdle short of the state tournament in Austin, and did so with the Wildcats forced to endure a seven-hour bus ride back to the Dallas/Fort Worth area from Texas Tech's United Spirit Arena.
The loss followed a regional semifinal which was even more a home game for Kennedale's opposition, with the Dallas/Fort Worth-area team knocking off Lubbock (Texas) Cooper, 65-47, in the same Lubbock arena where its season came to an end the following day.
To say that Kennedale wasn't surprised by its visitors status is an understatement. Wildcats coach Vance Hughes told the Dallas Morning News, "it's essentially a home game," for both Lubbock Cooper and Abilene Wylie before either matchup even tipped off, and said he was simply happy that it was hosted by a college stadium so big that it drowned out most crowd noise.
For what it's worth, Kennedale isn't new to traveling long distances for big matchups. The Wildcats flew to Arizona to compete in Nike's Tournament of Champions earlier this fall and also played road games in locations more than an hour away in the state of Texas.
Still, that's small recompense for making a team drive hours out of its way to play a game it had a right to a home-court advantage in. And Kennedale's existing opponent actually came from farther away than the one it had to get just to earn a matchup with Wylie in the first place.
Technically, the two games were played on a neutral court. Technically, UIL had just as much right to send Kennedale's regional playoff site there as it did to nearby Southern Methodist University, which also had a sizable basketball arena -- the legendary Moody Coliseum -- empty over the weekend (and happens to be some 45 minutes from the Kennedale High campus).
Yet, if UIL continues to set up these tournament sites so far out of a top team's way, perhaps it should re-visit it's regions. The concept of including a team that lies between Arlington and Fort Worth in a region that is predominantly situated 3-7 hours away seems laughable, at best.