Keller lacrosse snags state title

The Keller lacrosse team was able to avenge one of only two losses on the season, and it couldn’t have come at a sweeter time.

Keller beat Flower Mound 13-10 to claim the Texas High School Lacrosse League Division II state championship over the weekend in Friendswood.

Keller made it to the state tournament and knocked off McKinney, 14-8 in the state semifinals on Saturday. They came back on Sunday for the state title game against Flower Mound, the defending state champion and previously top-ranked team.

In a regular-season meeting between the two state finalists, Flower Mound came out with an 11-10 double overtime win.

The only other loss came to Coppell in the first game of the season. Keller finishes the season at 20-2.

“It was a great win, especially for our 20 seniors,” said Keller head coach Matt Pate.

Pate said 14 of the seniors all started the sport together when the group was just in fifth grade.

The key to winning the Flower Mound game hinged on the defensive side for Keller. Flower Mound led 7-6 after two quarters.

Pate switched up defenders, putting the tournament defensive MVP Jake Hamilton on the top Flower Mound player.

“Once we put Jake on their best player, we shut them down,” Pate said.

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The Keller offense then took over, and Bevan Pate, Dakota Butler and Dalton Skelley led the way in scoring.

Keller scored five goals in the third quarter.

Bevan Pate was named the tournament MVP with eight goals and five assists.

Prior to the state tournament games, Bevan Pate led the scoring for Keller – and Division II – scoring 77 goals and adding 36 assists. He will be playing at Young Harris College in Georgia next season on a lacrosse scholarship.

Other top scorers for Keller include Butler (41 goals, 18 assists) and Taylor Hosford (31 goals, 14 assists). Butler will be playing next year at Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX.

Defensively, Hamilton had 58 takeaways for Keller, while Jake Cruzen had 36 and 49 ground balls. Garrett Blubaugh had 35 takeaways and 61 ground balls for Keller, as a two-sport athlete at Keller.

Along the way to the state tournament, Keller had won the Austin regional, beating Clear Lake, 12-9, Austin Cedar Ridge, 9-4 and a play-in game over Frisco.

As a Division II school, of which there are 72, the team is comprised of players from more than one school.

Of the 35 players on the Keller squad, 25 are Keller High students. Others attend Central, Westlake, Nolan Catholic and Trinity Valley.

Coach Pate said there may be the possibility of fielding a Keller High-only team next year and an associated move to Division I, where there are 83 teams.

“It was the last time for all these seniors to play together,” Pate said. “I feel like they can surprise some people with their experience. We just had to put it all together.”

Last year’s team lost to Highland Park in the “super regional” and missed out on the state tournament.

Girls headed to state in first varsity season

The Keller girls, in their first varsity season of lacrosse, will also be playing in the state tournament this weekend in Houston.

Head coach Tracey Perry said the team took on a schedule of primarily Division I teams before getting into their own Division II district schedule.

“We played a lot of D-I opponents to help elevate our game,” Perry said. “We knew it would be a challenge. Once we got into district play, we did really, really well.”

Keller’s girls are the fourth seed and will play Katy (fifth seed) in the first game on Saturday. With a win, they’ll move on to play St. Michael’s. A win there would put Keller into the championship game against the other bracket’s winner.

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