EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – In front of a raucous crowd of over 4,000 people on Tuesday night at the Don Haskins Center, No. 18 Chapin defeated Parkland 56-53 in the Class 5A boys Regional Quarterfinals.
The victory pushed the Huskies into the Class 5A Regional Tournament for the third consecutive season, where they will play Fort Worth’s O.D. Wyatt – the ninth-ranked team in Class 5A – on Friday in the Sweet 16 in Wichita Falls.
“I’m always about the kids,” said Chapin head coach Rodney Lewis. “They put in the effort. Everyone counted us out and we’re here. They’re warriors.”
Chapin’s third straight run to the Sweet 16 may have caught some in the city of El Paso by surprise, especially after the Huskies lost multiple seniors, including Manny Flores and Antwonne Holmes, as well as four-star, top-100 prospect KJ Lewis after the 2021-22 season.
However, the Huskies (29-6) used that as fuel all season and find themselves in the Sweet 16 yet again with a team-oriented brand of basketball centered around defense and getting out in transition.
“Three years in a row is crazy for any program. I’m just proud of my guys,” said senior guard Bryson Goldsmith, who was the District 1-5A MVP in 2022-23. “I’m blessed and grateful to be a part of this. They said we couldn’t do this without our seniors and KJ and I’m just glad we got it done.”
The crowd of 4,000 included some local celebrities, including UTEP men’s basketball coach Joe Golding and NFL Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones. Jones donated $10,000 to the winning Huskies.
Parkland (26-9) was up to the Huskies’ challenge, leading 13-9 after one quarter of play. However, Chapin used a 19-7 spurt in the second quarter to take a 28-20 lead into halftime.
A back-and-forth third quarter, followed by a strong start to the fourth by the Huskies had Chapin in front by 11 points with 2:47 remaining after a Jayden Laverett dunk.
But Parkland showed a resolve that it dug into in its Area round win over Amarillo Tascosa, getting hot from three to claw back into the game. Isiah Medrano and Justin Rodriguez each hit some huge shots as the Matadors cut it to a one-possession game with less than a minute remaining.
With Chapin’s season hanging in the balance, Goldsmith stepped up and drilled two big free throws with under 20 seconds left to seal the win for the Huskies.
Even in defeat, Parkland held its heads high after advancing to the Regional Quarterfinals for the first time since 2007.
“I was proud, I was happy to be their coach and to be with them on this journey. They have no reason to hang their heads,” said Parkland head coach Jeremy Vanley. “They didn’t let the pressure of the situation or the circumstances get to them. I’m pleased.”
Lewis called Vanley the most underrated coach in El Paso after the game and it’s hard to argue with him given the season Parkland just wrapped up.
As for Chapin’s head coach, his third straight trip to the Sweet 16 cements him as one of the best coaches in El Paso high school hoops history. Lewis was an assistant at Andress under the late Jim Forbes during the Eagles’ incredible run of success last decade. Now, as the head man of his own program, he’s brought similar success.
Lewis got emotional after Tuesday’s win, his second as a coach in a playoff game at the Don Haskins Center (2015 Andress over Bel Air). The Huskies won in the stadium where his mentor, Forbes, played college basketball, and where his jersey hangs in the rafter.
Now, they’ll look to go further than any Chapin team ever has before. The No. 18 Huskies will square off with No. 9 O.D. Wyatt (Fort Worth) on Friday in Wichita Falls.