San Antonio, TX –
Nineteen years is a long time for anything. That’s how long it’s been since a boys public school had won any type of UIL State Championship from the city of San Antonio. Well, the Robert G Cole Cougars changed all that on Friday afternoon at the Alamodome, dismantling the Tatum Eagles in the 3A State Championship, 77-60.
The Cougars broke open a five-point halftime lead with a flurry of offense and used the defensive clamps to stifle the Eagles and separate right out of the gate in the third period. Cole used an 11-0 run to put Tatum on its heels, 41-25, and the Eagles never recovered.
John Jay High School was the last boy’s program to win a UIL title on the court, during the 2001-2002 season. Nearly two decades worth of drought ended with the Cougars win. Culminate last year’s State Tournament cancelation and the Cougars were hungry looking to complete what they felt was unfinished business.
“It’s definitely special! I feel like we’ve been chasing this thing for four years now. We’ve been so close and to have come here last year and not getting to play was tough. This one is extra special! We lost some key players and still found a way to get back and win it,” said Cole Head Coach Noe Cantu.
Junior guard and Championship Game MVP, Trey Blackmore, would connect on a mid-range jumper in the paint, while teammate Silas Livingston would add two more consecutive buckets, and the entire dynamic of the game did a 180. Cole was now in complete control and was never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Blackmore was locked in and on a mission. He’d add a layup, and then two consecutive three-pointers, and finished with thirteen points in the frame, and had a total of 24 points just after three quarters of play. Couple the Cougars offensive explosion with their aggressive defense, and Tatum’s cold shooting in the third period, and Cole dominated the eight minutes, 31-12, and were dominating heading into the fourth quarter, 61-37.
Before exiting in the fourth quarter with a leg/knee injury, teammate and point guard, Silas Livingston would have his way with the opposing defense. Although he struggled early with his perimeter game, Tatum could not keep a man in front of him. His speed was too much, and he had his way getting to the hole and drawing contact. He would go 10 of 12 from the free throw line and finished with 24pts.
Cole Head Coach, Noe Cantu touched on his dynamic backcourt.
“They are two of the best guards in the city and they’re two of the best guards in the state. The resume says it. We’ve played tough teams and they’ve done what they did today against 5A, 6A, top ranked teams in any classification. They have proven this, they’re very confident. Trey has grown with his shot selection and efficiency. He’s really knowing how to get to his spots now. Silas is just a tough guard. You can’t stay in front of the kid and then he can shoot the ball really well. Both have put in a lot of time during the off-season. They were really motivated this year, they knew we lost some players, but the way they saw it was to have a great opportunity to do some things.”
Cole claimed it’s second ever State Title, and they’re win brings a Championship spotlight to the Alamo City that has been blacked out for 19 years. Progress has certainly been made with the level of talent in the 210 and Coach Cantu says it’s in the proof.
“Basketball in San Antonio, there’s a lot of great players and programs. It’s undermined a lot because of like you said, the stigma. I think San Antonio is making a trend up and so is the Tri-Regions. I think before, 10-15 years ago the gap was a lot bigger than what it is now. I do think the gap is closing, and I think that is a great thing. I think this kind of proves that even though it’s at the 3A level, Dallas Madison has been dominating this classification, so I think the gap has been closing in all classifications. It’s a credit to the players here and the city.”
Cole completed a year-round journey that started with their State Tournament cancelled in March of 2020, pushed through a pandemic, lost a Top 50 National prospect (Vince Iwuchukwu), and plenty of naysayers after a 6-5 start to the ‘21 campaign. They did it emphatically with a resounding boom! The Cougars can now lay claim as Texas UIL 3A State Champions.