The Cooldown: Week 21

Cover Photo via @JackYatesHoops on Twitter.

Some districts completed the first round of district play on Friday while other districts will have round one wrapped up by the end of this week. We’re starting to see who the favorites are and who needs some help in the second half to sneak into this season’s playoffs. Here is a recap of some of last week’s games and our early favorites to make a run to state.

1. Morton Ranch keeps rolling

The Mavs are starting to solidify themselves as true contenders. They’ve been state-ranked all season, but lost some tough non district games. Now Morton Ranch is undefeated through the first half of district play, with just one game that wound up being close.

After a narrow 67-64 win against Cinco Ranch last Friday, Morton Ranch used a Tuesday bye to it’s advantage, picking up a 78-50 win against second place Katy. The Mavs are 4-0 in district play with Katy sitting at 3-2. It’s hard to imagine Morton Ranch losing three times in district play, which is what will likely need to happen if another Katy ISD were to win the district.

L.J. Cryer impressed once again by nearly outscoring Katy by himself, finishing with 45 points. Wesley Sellers chipped in triple sevens – seven points, rebounds and assists. Some would call that lucky!

2. Two teams to watch

Teams like Morton Ranch and Dickinson get a lot of love when it comes to talking about the best in Houston. There are a plethora of other teams in that conversation as well. Two names I don’t hear often in that conversation are Cy Park and Fort Bend Travis.

Those two names may not have the level of talent as some of the top teams have, but each has impressed in district play thus far. Travis picked up a big 72-66 win against Ridge Point last week to remain unbeaten in district play. Bush was the preseason pick to win district 20-6A by TABC, but Travis has had other plans, going 5-0 in district so far. The Tigers 21-5 overall record thus far has earned them a top 150 ranking in the nation by Maxpreps.

As for Cy Park, they got blown out by Dickinson earlier in the season but have dominated district play so far. The other Tigers are 7-1 in district with an overall record of 18-7, including five losses by six points or less. They may not be a threat to make it to state, but the Tigers are absolutely contenders in 14-6A.

3. Ranked teams and our favorites for state

At near the halfway point in district play, I thought now was an appropriate time to make some picks. The top talent has separated itself from the rest, and there are a handful of teams that I think have a good shot of making it to San Antonio. Before we get to that though, I’ll list off the Houston area teams currently ranked in this week’s TABC poll.

Ranked 6A teams include (2) Dickinson, (3) Summer Creek, (7) Atascocita, (8) Beaumont United, (9) North Shore, (15) Morton Ranch and (21) Westfield.

Ranked 5A teams include (2) Shadow Creek, (3) Hightower and (25) Manvel.

Because 5A is a little more straightforward, we’ll start with that. Shadow Creek was upset in round two last season and somehow brought back an even more talented squad for 2019-20. The Sharks picked up a double digit win against No. 3 Hightower at home, and will have a chance to pick up another bug win against Hightower on the road.

Shadow Creek plays in perhaps the toughest district in 5A, with three state-ranked teams. That doesn’t even include Marshall, who upset Manvel last week by scoring 95 points. With that group of four, no team will be as battle tested heading into playoffs as Shadow Creek and Hightower will. I fully expect one of the two to make it to state, and I think it will be Shadow Creek.

Class 6A has plenty of great options to choose from. Atascocita and North Shore have struggled a bit in district play as of late. North Shore won both of it’s games by less than three points last week, with neither coming against district mate No. 8 Beaumont United. Atascocita squeaked by Kingwood 45-42.

Morton Ranch endured some early struggles, but has come on strong in district play. Westfield has looked strong all season, but has played a weaker schedule than the rest.

It might be cliché to pick the top two teams in the rankings, but Dickinson and Summer Creek have impressed me the most this season. Summer Creek picked up a big win at Atascocita to open district play, and will likely have a chance to wrap up a district championship with a win at home against the Eagles in early February.

Dickinson hasn’t played in a close game in quite a while, sporting a 19-5 record. Two of those losses came to No. 1 (5A) Lancaster, with another pair of losses coming against Summer Creek and Beaumont United. The Gators may have to go through those teams to make it to San Antonio, but I like their chances. Everyone on that team can handle the ball regardless of size, and it’s hard to force Dickinson into turnovers. Their style of play bodes well for the playoffs, and Dickinson is my pick to represent Houston at state in 6A.

Also just for quick 4A shout-out: just give Yates the title now. They’ve scored 100+ in eight straight games, and need eight more to break the national record of 15 straight high school games scoring 100+. That record is held by… Yates, from 2009. I hope they do it, honestly.