When Oak Cliff Faith Family Academy faced Houston basketball power Yates in Friday's UIL 4A state semifinal, it turned to a freshman forward to earn a 80-74 win at San Antonio's Alamodome. VYPE Player of the Game Trae Clayton scored 23 of his game-high 35 points in the second half, and also led all players with 14 rebounds.
"Most of our team is senior based, and to have the feeling of getting the seniors a ring as a freshman," Clayton said of the motivation going into Saturday's title game.
Faith Family Academy trailed by seven in the opening quarter and nine in the second, but kept the game competitive, with Rakeim Gary scoring seven of his 12 points and Jordan Walsh adding eight of his 11 before halftime.
Faith Family Academy had found the necessary footing to be successful, but the second half changed the direction of the game. The Eagles outscored Yates 45-34 in the final two quarters by leaning on Clayton's offense and forcing a Lions' fourth quarter scoring drought.
"Their poise," Faith Family Academy coach Brandon Thomas said of his players' impressive performance down the stretch.
Yates, who made its seventh-ever trip to the UIL state tournament, had the lineup of scorers to stay around until the end. Four Kayden Rose free throws and a late Antwon Norman basket made it a 75-72 game with 35 seconds left, but Yates never retook the lead. JoQuarius Valrie missed a pair of free throws, and Norman and Carnel August followed with unsuccessful shots.
Valrie did redeem himself wth a late tip in with seven seconds left, which made it a 79-74 game, but Clayton's free throw with a tick left finished off Yates.
In the loss, Yates was led by Valrie's 27 points and Rose's 18. The Lions also got 12 from Norman and Rubin Jones.
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