The Cooldown: Week 20

With the first full week of district play down, we’re starting to get an idea of who could be for real and who will need to do some work to get back in the playoff race. We’ve got one big game to talk about in 5A and a few others to get to as well.

1. Shadow Creek makes a statement

Imagine going on the road and playing in front of a sellout crowd. Then add a ceremony for the defending football state champions. Then add NBA superstar James Harden. Then, imagine trying to get a win.

That was the task facing Fort Bend Hightower, and they predictably weren’t able to escape with that win – falling 86-74 in our game of the week. Shadow Creek was No. 2 in the state while Hightower was ranked third.

The good news is Hightower will have another shot against the Sharks at home later in the season – sure to be a less-hectic environment, unless James Harden decides to show up again.

Shadow Creek utilized one of the most balanced attacks in the state to get the win. Will Young led the way with 21, while Shawn Jones had 20. Ramon Walker finished with 18 and Randy Masters chipped in 10. This shows a team who trusts putting the ball in the hands of multiple players, with no one guy dominating. That sort of chemistry is important for a state run.

For Hightower, Bryce Griggs continued his high-powered scoring with 34 points. The Hurricanes will get another shot at Shadow Creek in less than a month on February 11, and potentially again in the Region III playoffs.

2. Katy ISD's wild night

Katy ISD had one dominant team in Morton Ranch. I fully expect the Mavs to go four rounds deep in the playoffs behind one of the most prolific scorers the Houston area has seen in a while in L.J. Cryer. That being said, Morton Ranch being the only elite-level team doesn’t mean Katy ISD won’t be interesting. They’ve given us great games every night of district play so far, and last Friday was no exception.

First, Morton Ranch was nearly stunned by Cinco Ranch, winning 67-64. For perspective, Cinco Ranch is now 0-2 in district play, one spot ahead of last place Seven Lakes at 0-3. Seven Lakes is only 0-3 because of a 67-64 comeback from 2-0 Taylor.

With one-minute left, Seven Lakes held a five-point lead. Within a minute, that lead evaporated as Taylor was somehow able to outscore the Spartans by eight points in the final minute. Jake Arnold finished with 32 of Taylor’s 67 points.

With the exception of the occasional Morton Ranch blowout, it feels as if most games in Katy ISD could go either way on any given night. As I mentioned, Morton Ranch may be the only team in the district with the star power to make a run in the playoffs, but I’ll be keeping my eye on the rest of the district as well. They’re nothing if not entertaining.

3. Two more thrillers

We usually make three bullet points on this list, so I’m going to squeeze two Friday night games into this last one because they both deserve to be talked about.

First, North Shore edged Deer Park 53-51 thanks to a buzzer beater from Randy Woodard. In a district that includes Beaumont United, it’ll be no easy task for North Shore to make it back to state.

The Mustangs are great in their own right, and tough district competition will help prepare them for the playoffs. Woodard finished with 18 points and eight rebounds in the win.

The next game I want to talk about involves another nail-biter from Klein Forest. Daylan Hamilton continued to shoulder the scoring load for the Eagles, finishing with an impressive 37 points. Few players in the state are playing at the level that Hamilton is but the Eagles still needed overtime to take down The Woodlands 66-63. After beating Klein Cain by two previously, 15-6A looks like it could be just as competitive as it was during football season.

Klein Forest is likely the best of the bunch and still holds a perfect district record, but as Cain and The Woodlands showed, it may not be long before someone breaks through and beats Klein Forest.

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