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6A UIL girls basketball: Amarachi Kimpson's clutch free throws propel Little Elm past Keller

The Little Elm girls basketball team's season rests on Kimpson's shoulders: 'Good things happen when you give full effort'
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FORT WORTH, Texas — With the game on the line, Amarachi Kimpson delivered for Little Elm.

The senior and UNLV signee hit five of six free throws in the final 15.5 seconds to secure a 60-56 win over Keller in a Class 6A Regional 1 semifinals on Friday night on Robert Hughes Court.

The win vaults the Lobos into the regional finals against Coppell at 1 p.m. on Saturday with the winner going to the UIL State Championships next week.

“We have a goal to get to state and even win the whole thing,” Kimpson said. “I knew I had to put my energy out there. Good things happen when you give full effort on the court.

[Photo gallery: Little Elm beats Keller girls]

“Keller has good defenders and had a good game plan on me but I also work hard in the gym and it comes out on the court,” said Kimpson, who had never moved past the first round of playoffs in her previous three seasons.

Kimpson did her part to ensure the Lobos moved onto the elite eight with a 32-point showing.

She scored 10 of those in the fourth quarter, the most of any of her four quarters, and tallied 19 of the 32 in the second half.

How it happened

Amarachi Kimpson drives to the hoop through a sea of defenders in the UIL Region 1 semifinals.

Amarachi Kimpson drives to the hoop through a sea of defenders in the UIL Region 1 semifinals.

Little Elm (31-5) trailed 44-42 going into the fourth but the Lobos tied it up early but Jaden Gilliam hit a 3-pointer to give Keller the lead back.

The Lobos trailed with less than 2 1/2 minutes to go but Kimpson scored on a layup and drew a foul. She made the free throw to give the Lobos the lead for good, though the Indians (28-9) never went away.

Keller had a chance to tie the game but hit only one of two free throws with 2:07 left.

Gilliam, who had 30 points, kept the Indians alive with a layup with 43 seconds left to make it 53-52 and then her free throws with 18.2 seconds left made it 54-55.

The back-and-forth contest wasn’t over yet.

Kimpson went to the line to make it a 3-point game but a turnover on a long pass by Keller gave the ball back to the Lobos. Kimpson was fouled and made two more free throws to make it 59-54 with 8.8 seconds left.

Renee Chmiel scored with 1.9 seconds left to give Keller a fighting chance, trailing 59-56. Kimpson got fouled and hit one of two to make it a four-point game with 1.3 left.

“When you got a player like Amarachi Kimpson making plays, whether it was defensive play, getting in the lane or making a good pass to a teammate … she made the right plays at the right time,” Little Elm coach Ken Tutt said. “We have been working for it (state) since losing in the first round last year. Our goal is to make a run in the playoffs. Right now, we are making the run but we aren’t done yet.”

Little Elm led 17-14 after the first but Keller — winners of seven in a row heading into the game — went up 29-25 at the break.

Keller went up by five late in the third quarter, but Kimpson scored five points in six seconds that pulled them back in the game. She drained a layup with 3 minutes left and then with 2:54, she scored again after getting a steal on an inbound pass near the free-throw line.

She drew a foul on the play and hit the free throw to tie the game at 39.

Keller scored the next five — including a 3-pointer by Rebekah Graves — to take regain the lead going into the fourth.

Little Elm, No. 19 in the TABC girls poll, will be vying for its first-ever trip to the state finals but so will Coppell, which is ranked No. 11.


Little Elm (31-5) advances to the Region I finals in the Class 6A Texas high school girls basketball playoffs, where the Lobos will face the Coppell Cowgirls (37-3) at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center in Fort Worth.