The Cooldown: Week 18

The Cooldown is back after a week off for the holidays. Football season is over and basketball season has been in full swing for a while now. Check out a recap of some tournament action, who’s ranked, season look-ahead and more.

Who's Ranked?

After a whirlwind of a football season, it is good to get up to speed with what’s going on with Houston-area basketball. A good way to do that is by looking at who the potential contenders are in the state-wide rankings. Here’s how it looks by class at the moment.

The state rankings haven’t been updated since December 20, so these rankings might be perhaps a little outdated. Nonetheless, all that has happened since then are holiday tournaments which are sometimes a crapshoot and shouldn’t affect the rankings too much in my opinion.

The class 6A rankings include nine Houston-area squads and five of those are in the top 10. However – as will be the case for likely most of the season – Houston-area teams were locked out of the top three. That’s because Duncanville and Richardson will occupy the top two spots all season long and will likely meet in the state title game.

The ranked 6A teams in Houston are (4) Atascocita, (5) Dickinson, (6) Elkins, (7) Cy Falls, (8) Spring Westfield, (12) Clear Brook, (17) Pearland Dawson, (19) Shadow Creek and (20) Seven Lakes.

The are five ranked 5A teams, including (5) Crosby, (6) Katy Paetow, (12) Fort Bend Marshall, (13) Hightower and (17) Goose Creek Memorial. These rankings also include nearby powerhouse Beaumont United at No. 2.

There are three ranked Houston-area teams in class 4A, including (4) Houston Washington, (5) Stafford and (7) La Marque. There are no ranked Houston-area teams below 4A.

Vype Tournament provides showcase for top 10 talent

The best area tournament in Houston this year was a 16-team field hosted by Vype, which had no shortage of talent. The championship game featured No. 4 Atascocita and No. 8 Westfield and the tournament also featured No. 6 Elkins and Stratford.

Unfortunately for Stratford, they ran into the buzz saw that is Atascocita, losing 52-42. Elkins dropped a close one to Westfield, 53-52. That set up a championship between Atascocita and Westfield where the Mustangs reigned supreme. With two top 10 wins at that tournament, Westfield figures to potentially move up into the top five of the state rankings with the 45-39 win. Stratford could be a beneficiary of “good losses” playing top talent close. Each of these teams should retain top eight state-wide rankings given the competitive nature of each game.

While Vype hosted several of the top teams in the area, only one Houston-area team made the trip up to DFW for a holiday tournament. Houston wasn’t represented in the highly regarded Whataburger Tournament and Clear Brook held the mantle for Houston in Allen’s In-N-Out Invitational.

Clear Brook impresses in Allen

Allen ran its invitational a little different this year due to a recent spike in COVID cases. There were 20 participating teams each split into one of four pools. Each team played games only against teams in its’ pool. Clear Brook went up to Allen and won Pool C, containing Naaman Forest, Rockwall-Heath, Frisco Independence and Little Elm.

Clear Brook won the tournament with a 93-80 win against Naaman Forest and beat Little Elm 68-65 to get there. The Wolverines can score with anyone in the state in part because the Millender brothers – Marcus and Ke’Mauri – are fantastic scorers. Marcus Millender tied for the tournament high in single-game points scored with 31 while Ke’Mauri totaled at least 20 points in every game; particularly impressing in the Pool C title game against Naaman Forest with 27 points and eight steals.

The Millender brothers and Christian Bradshaw were named to the Allen Holiday Invitational All-Tournament Team for their performances. Those three will look to lead Clear Brook into the top 10 in the state where five other Houston-area teams currently reside.

Player of the Week

A name to watch this season without a doubt is Chris Johnson from Elkins. He’s one of the top players in the country for the junior class and is considering Kansas and LSU at the moment. He showed why at the Vype Tournament, scoring 28 in a win against Foster and was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Johnson earned player-of-the-week honors for that reason and should be fun to watch all season, especially going up against the best in a Houston-area loaded with talent.