Byron Nelson was enjoying its most boys basketball success in eight years and the Bobcats entered Tuesday night two wins away from their first state berth, but standing in their way was third-ranked Richardson.
Led by its 5-star backcourt combo of junior guards Cason Wallace and Rylan Griffen, Richardson knocked out Byron Nelson and ended the magic, 66-32, in a Class 6A Region 1 semifinal at Prosper Rock Hill HS.
Richardson (25-1) will face Dallas Jesuit in the 6A Region 1 championship later this week.
The Bobcats finished the season 21-4 with a district title and first regional semifinal appearance since 2013.
“It’s a great group of kids and I’m proud of them. They fight every night,” Byron coach Scott Curran said. “We just didn’t have it tonight. We didn’t make free throws or open shots. Richardson is a good team, but we just didn’t play well tonight and it happens sometimes.”
Both teams had a hard time finding a rhythm early with only eight points combined in the first four minutes. The Bobcats’ only lead of the game came at 6-4 with a Finley Bizjack layup.
Griffen, who is projected to commit with Oklahoma by 247Sports, knocked a three and Tre Howell picked up an offensive put-back to beat the first-quarter buzzer that gave the Eagles a 13-9 edge.
The Eagles pushed the margin to eight then nine twice on floaters by Griffen and Wallace.
Byron pulled within 27-16 late in the period on a Jesse Iweze bucket, but Griffen beat the second-quarter buzzer with an emphatic put-back dunk. Richardson led 29-16 at intermission.
Griffen led all scorers with 21 points and added seven rebounds.
The Bobcats forced the Eagles into foul trouble, but had a horrible night at the charity stripe. The Richardson lead ballooned to 40-21 midway through the third quarter.
“We did a good job getting to the free-throw line. We just didn’t take care of business,” Curran said. “I don’t know what we shot at the line, but it was bad.”
Richardson led 46-24 after three and gave Byron Nelson fits all night long. The Bobcats entered the evening with 61.9 points per game this season.
“We decided to be really aggressive and pressure their guards, make them uncomfortable. Thought if we could force turnovers, we could get some easy looks,” said Richardson coach Kevin Lawson, whose team is another win away from its first state appearance since 1987. “We had to play that brand of basketball because if we let them shoot and get looks, we were in trouble.
“Jaylon Barnett was huge for us and came in with a spark in the second half when we went on that big run to extend the lead. Derek Burns doesn’t start, but comes off the bench and played big with rebounding, put-backs and defense on their bigs. He was awesome.”
Byron Nelson will graduate eight seniors and bring back seven on this year’s roster, including the sophomore Bizjack, the team’s leading scorer, who scored 31 against North Crowley on Friday.
Said Curran, “I’m just going to tell them I love them, I’m proud of them and we’ll be back.”