Falcons Soar to State Basketball Semifinals

By George Slaughter

The Tompkins Falcons boys basketball team is a senior-laden team, and it hopes to go out on a high note this weekend in San Antonio.

The Falcons, 31-8, play South Garland, 36-3, at 7 p.m. Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The winner plays the winner of the Austin Westlake-Allen semifinal game which immediately follows.

The Class 6A state title game is at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome.

In describing this basketball season, Falcons coach Bobby Sanders said the team began playing its best basketball at just exactly the right time.

“I don’t know how they did that, but I‘m glad they did,” Sanders said. “We have so many seniors, and they’re so mature I don’t have to say much. They hold each other accountable and come ready to practice.”

The Falcons won the District 19-6A championship, winning 12 of its 14 district games. In the playoffs, Tompkins defeated Ridge Point, Cypress Springs, Fort Bend Bush, Deer Park, and Alief Taylor to reach the semifinal.

This is the first time that a Katy Independent School District boys basketball team has gone this far in the state tournament, Sanders said.

The Colonels won the District 10-6A championship with a perfect 12-0 record. They defeated Richardson, Rockwall, Richardson Pearce, Houston Eisenhower, and Dallas Jesuit to earn their semifinal berth.

On December 29, the Colonels defeated the Falcons, 76-50, in Fort Worth.

“They’re really good, obviously, or they wouldn’t be here,” Sanders said. “We played them at the Whataburger Tournament at Fort Worth and they whipped us pretty bad. Hopefully, they’ll take us lightly when we get there.”

The MVP of the regional tournament was senior guard CJ Washington. He had 19 points in the first game, against Deer Park, and 20 points in the second game, against Alief Taylor.

“He’s completely overpowered the other teams,” Sanders said.

The Falcons continue to be led by senior guard Jamal Bienemy, who has committed to play college basketball at the University of Oklahoma.

“He’s still a facilitator for us,” Sanders said. “He’s a lockdown guy on the other team’s best player, usually.”

Senior forward Kristian Sjolund, originally from Norway, has also been a leader for the Falcons this season. Sjolund has committed to playing college basketball at Georgia Tech.

“He’s been playing well,” Sanders said. “He’s shooting the ball well for us. He’s rebounding well and blocking a lot of shots.”

Sanders said that senior guard Eden Holt’s shooting has been key to quick starts in almost all of their games. Against Fort Bend Bush, Sanders said, Holt was fouled on a three-point shot and made some clutch free throws to win that game.

Against Deer Park, Sanders said that Holt hit six of seven shots from the three-point range.

Scoring is important, but keeping the other team from scoring is also important. Sanders said that senior guard Emmanuel White has been the “dirty work guy” for the Falcons.

“He gets lots of rebounds and loose balls,” Sanders said. “He guards some of the best players all the time, and he gets the rebounds. He’s been doing it all.”

While the Falcons have enjoyed strong leadership from their seniors, Sanders praised the loud and proud fan following, which is known as the Falcon Fanatics.

“We have the best fans in Texas,” he said. “Our crowd overwhelms the other team with their noise every game. It’s almost a 2-1 advantage.”

To purchase tickets fans can contact Tompkins High School or visit the UIL web site.