Texas THSLL: Highland Park, Jesuit To Clash; McKinney, Colleyville Advance
3d Rising made the treck to Dallas, Texas, where the Texas High School Lacrosse League championships are being held this weekend at Allen High School's Eagle Stadium, about a half hour north of The Big D.
After making the journey last year, we returned this year to take in the Final Four of Texas' Division 1 and Division 2, which featured McKinney and Rockwall in the first contest and then Colleyville and Plano in the second.
The first game was a defensive battle, producing a 1-1 tie at the end of the first before the pace picked up in the second and the action went down to the wire. Cameron Hanley netted the game winner in exciting fashion, coming up with a loose ball and getting a shot off as the Rockwall defense unsuccessfully attempted to get back into position. The goal came with just 24 seconds left in regulation.
McKinney, a team knocked out of the Division 2 hunt last season by eventual champions Highland Park II, will meet Colleyville, who fell in last year's Division 2 by a score of 15-10 to the Scots second squad. Saturday, Colleyville ran away with a 9-5 win over Plano High School in the second semifinal. In that game, Griffin Gradke and Jack Carbonari each contributed two goals in the victory for the Panthers.
When Colleyville and McKinney met in the regular season, the Panthers won 10-6.
The second half of Saturday featured the Division 1 semifinals, starting with Highland Park I (the school fields a D1 and D2 squad) taking on Westlake, a surging program out of Austin. Up by a big margin, as much as 6-0 at the end of the first quarter, Highland Park had to hold off a furious rally by the Chaps that saw sophomore standout Tate Young put up three goals and an assist and big righty attackman Jake Nathan score four times. But the Scots were strong in the cage as Colby Kneese came up with a bunch of clutch saves, including a flailing stop late in the game on a would-be tying goal, and Owen Seebold finished with three goals and an assist to send Highland Park back to the title game.
The Scots will face Jesuit out of Dallas, a team that in the second semifinal had to overcome a 4-1 deficit against the Episcopal School out of Dallas. Jesuit did so with excellent defense and an aggressive ride and midfield presence. The Rangers held the Eagles off the scoreboard for more than 29 minutes, a stretch lasting from early in the second quarter until the midway point of the fourth, when the Rangers had managed to pull ahead and work out to a lead as large as 7-4 and then 8-5 before Episcopal netted some late goals while trying to tie it back up.
The Rangers were led by Zack Kissick, who scored twice and added an assist, as well as strong play in the middle of the field by John Michael Priddy.
The Division II title is set for 11 a.m. Sunday, and the Division 1 finale will be at 1 p.m. In the regular season meeting, Highland Park defeated Jesuit 9-6.
Be sure to visit the THSLL's excellent and informative championship website (thsll.org/championship.php), where you can see full stats, rosters, brackets and follow the championships from afar. We'll have updates too on Twitter (@cvock) and Instagram (@3drising).