Arp Basketball Season Starts Slow, Still Ends in Austin

Saturday night, with a driving baseline layup, LeVocheya Cooper put the cherry on top for the Arp Tigers and they punched their ticket back to the state basketball tournament in Austin.

"It felt good," Cooper said of hitting his final shot. "I just knew we were going back to state. We were going to Austin."

"I think it's a relief from a coaching standpoint," Arp head coach Brian Keith said. "You have high expectations of your team, and to finally see the finish of the game and know you've earned the trip...I just feel happy for our kids."

The Tigers won state in 2006, thanks in part to current senior Sedrick Johnsons' double-double.  Cooper was in eighth grade then. He says now that he's a sophomore, he wants to continue the tradition.

"When I was in eighth grade, Cedric was a sophomore," he said. "I feel like it's a repeat for me. This is my chance, and I'm confident about next year, and the year after that."

It's been an amazing year for Arp, especially when you consider they didn't even start the basketball season on time. Their four-round playoff season in football slowed things down a bit, but Coach Brian Keith says that was all for the best.

"I think it's all been positive. I think the kids came out of football feeling really good about themselves, and that gave us a lot of momentum hitting the court. Of course, we're a little bit behind in our games, but maybe that's saved us for this run right now."

One thing is sure, wherever they play, the Arp Tigers bring a maroon army with them.

"It feels great, because everyone cares and they come out to support us," Cooper said.

"Everyone thinks of Arp as a small community, but our fan support is huge," Keith said. "We're trying to get more tickets from Austin, our 470-something sold out this (Monday) morning, so we're trying to get another couple hundred to get our fans down to Austin. It's just been great for our kids."

Arp will play Ponder in the State Semifinal Friday morning at ten.

Reid Kerr can be reached at