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HISD’s own Sam Houston Running Tigers got a raucous send-off Thursday before they head to the state boys’ basketball semi-finals this weekend for the first time since 1988, and fans are being encouraged to show their support by attending Friday’s game or cheering the team on through social media.
Students and staff – along with members of the school’s 1988 state basketball championship team – gathered at Sam Houston Math, Science & Technology Center for the morning rally before the Tigers’ trip to San Antonio, where they will take on the Atascocita HS Eagles (Humble ISD) in the initial 6A division match-up at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Alamodome. The winner of that game will play against either the DeSoto Eagles (DeSoto ISD) or the Steele HS Knights (Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD) the following night at 8:30 p.m. for the state championship.
Watching the Tigers go for the title for the first time in 28 years will be player Terrell Wilson’s father, Terry Wilson, who was a member of the Sam Houston championship team in 1988, and Coach Ralph Barreras, who has been the team’s coach since 2010.
Barreras attributes his team’s success — and current 28-game winning streak — to the students’ speed and ability to stay connected on the court.
“Height-wise, we are probably one the smallest 6A teams in the state,” said Barreras. “But we compete at a very high level. Most people look at us and probably think we’re the JV team, but once the game is over, they have another idea. These kids put the team before any individual. And that’s been the story all year. There are three things I always ask my kids to do: execute, play with confidence, and give a great effort. As long as they do that, we’ll be tough to beat.”
HISD Athletics Director Marmion Dambrino agreed that what the team lacks in height, it more than makes up for in skill and passion.
“This is a team that plays basketball on the floor rather than in the air,” she explained. “You don’t see a whole lot of slam-dunking, but they are highly skilled and very fast. These young men are not afraid to get under the basket for a rebound, and they are not intimidated by the height of other teams. They are awesome.”
Others watching courtside Friday night will be Interim Superintendent Ken Huewitt and Board of Education Trustee Jolanda Jones, District IV. Tickets to Friday’s game are $16 and must be purchased through the Alamodome.
Fans can show support for the Tigers by posting photos of themselves wishing the team luck or at the game wearing team colors and using the hashtags #wearesam, #UILState, or #txhshoops.
Students and staff line the halls @SHMSTC to wish the team well. #WeAreSam pic.twitter.com/bxQPkcJUXz
— Houston ISD (@HoustonISD) March 10, 2016