The Cooldown: Week 19

With games happening twice per week opposed to once for football season, I feel like basketball season really flies by. There are just three weeks (counting this week) left in the regular season, with most teams wrapping up the season on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

That means playoffs are just around the corner and most teams have just five district games left to lock up a playoff spot. This week, we’ll recap three of the best teams in the area and name players-of-the-week.

Clements boys stay undefeated

The talk of the town all season has been the Clements Rangers – one of the two remaining undefeated teams in class 6A. It’s 25 down and five to go to cap off a perfect regular season, but the streak nearly came to an end last week.

The Rangers haven’t been without close calls to get to 25-0, including three wins by three points or less, including two against Travis. The latest came in a thrilling 58-56 double overtime win last week. Divine Ugochukwu led the way with 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the win. Bryce Matthews and Aziz Olajuwon were also in double figures with 13 and 10, respectively.

Clements beat four of its remaining five opponents by double digits the first time around. Elkins is the exception; Clements took down the Knights 59-52 at home. The road trip will be difficult because Elkins is good, as always, and there will surely be pressure to finish 30-0 if the Rangers win the four games leading up to the finale against Elkins. It’s one of my top storylines to watch closing out the regular season.

Atascocita boys pick up a win against a top 10 team

Clements is undefeated, but the Rangers aren’t the highest-ranked area team in the state. That honor would belong to Atascocita, who checks in at No. 4 in class 6A with a record of 25-6.

According to Maxpreps, four of those losses were marked as a forfeit, while the other two, against Schertz Clemens and North Crowley in tournaments, both happened in November. That means Atascocita has ripped off 21-straight wins, including two against 6A No. 10 Beaumont United, who is 25-3 – the latest of which came last week.

After trailing entering the fourth quarter, the Eagles scored 21 of their 64 points in the fourth quarter to take down United, 64-56. Jordan Maddox and Jerrell Barron Jr. led the way for Atascocita, scoring 16 points each. Avion Jackson chipped in 10 and Jachai Cantave scored all four of his points in the final minute to help put United away.

With a 9-0 district record and a pair of wins against its top competition in United, it seems Atascocita should pull away with a district championship and a potential game-only record of 31-2 entering the playoffs – excluding the forfeits. Atascocita in the highest-ranked team from Region III and will likely be the favorites to win the region and advance to state once again – though Clements, Seven Lakes and Shadow Creek will be among the challengers.

Cy Springs girls win a big district showdown

At 24-2 overall and 11-0 in district, there aren’t many teams in the state that can match up with 6A No. 9 Cypress Springs. But one of the teams that’s been able to give the Lady Panthers a run for their money is Langham Creek – who nearly beat Cy Springs in both district matchups.

Though Langham Creek didn’t get the win, there is one big reason the Lady Lobos hung tight until the end, and her name is Heather Baymon. The senior guard dropped a whopping 44 points on 59/50/100 splits, including making all 13 of her foul shots. Sophomore Brooke Prevost was also in double figures with 10 points; she added 11 rebounds and five steals.

That wasn’t enough to overcome the spread-the-wealth approach from Cy Springs, something a team can afford with such a level of talent. Jemini Mitchell scored 23 points, Evonne Sidney chipped in 16, Ayla McDowell had 13 and nine rebound and Mi’Riya Vincent had nine points.

A testament to the team-first approach, the Lady Panthers win against Cy Lakes painted a different picture. McDowell was the go-to with 24 points, Vincent poured in 20, Michell had 11 and Sidney had eight points. Those four are consistently the top four scorers, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who will have the hot hand on any given night.

The Lady Panthers will need to ride that team-first approach for a shot to make it to the state tournament. While I believe they’re as talented as any team in the state, fellow Region III bracket-mates Fort Bend Austin (28-1) and Summer Creek (27-3) present formidable challenges. Add in Pearland and Hightower, and that’s five teams in Region III ranking among the top 13 in the state. There isn’t much separation, or room for error, for any of the five. One thing is for sure, the winner of Region III will be battle tested come state tournament time.

Players of the Week

My boys player-of-the-week helped his team keep pace with Dickinson for first place in 24-6A with a pair of wins last week. David Emelife finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in a win against Brazoswood and followed that up with a team-high 22 points in a big win against Clear Lake. That’s a huge win because Clear Springs’ lone district loss came against Clear Lake. At 7-1, Clear Springs is keeping pace with 7-1 Dickinson and is now a game up on Clear Lake with that win. Emelife is my player-of-the-week!

My girls player-of-the-week has already been well discussed. For leading her team to a much needed win against district rival Langham Creek with 23 points, my girls player-of-the-week is Jemini Mitchell!

Statewide Rankings

Here’s how the Houston area stacks up in the 6A statewide rankings: (4) Atascocita, (7) Clements, (8) Seven Lakes, (9) Shadow Creek, (16) Cy Falls, (22) Bellaire and (24) College Park.

Class 5A features just two area teams in the state rankings: No. 3 Fort Bend Marshall and No. 18 Barbers Hill. Class 4A boasts No. 5 Washington, No. 7 Iowa Colony and No. 12 Stafford. Hitchcock is the No. 1 team in the state in Class 3A.

For the girls, there are also eight 6A teams ranked: (3) Fort Bend Austin, (6) Summer Creek, (9) Cy Springs, (11) Pearland, (13) Fort Bend Hightower, (19) C.E. King and (20) Langham Creek.

Class 5A has three state ranked teams: No. 5 Richmond Randle, No. 13 Fulshear and No. 21 Manvel. No. 18 Navasota is the only ranked area team in 4A, while Hitchcock (No. 5) is the only ranked team in 3A.

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