The Cooldown: Week 25

Folks, we’ve reached hoops heaven. Girls’ playoffs kicked off last week while the boys fought to solidify seeding and playoff spots. Now, we’ve got playoff basketball from here on out. That’s three weeks of nonstop playoff hoops leading up to girls’ state championships March 3-5 and the boys’ state championships March 10-12.

Dulles Lady Vikings win area round

The Dulles Lady Vikings can call themselves area champions once again. It’s been a while, but Cy Creek has had a stranglehold on that title for several years. It was only right Dulles beat the Lady Cougars to advance.

Dulles first had to survive a dogfight against Katy, winning 51-47 to advance past the first round. Then, the Lady Vikings advanced to round three for the first time ever with a convincing 55-42 win against defending Region III champion Cy Creek.

The Lady Vikings are a defensive terror and that trait showed up when they needed it most. Cy Creek entered the fourth quarter trailing by just five points, but the Lady Cougars would score only five points in the fourth quarter as Dulles pulled away for a 55-42 win. Nya Threatt led Dulles in scoring with 21 points, adding seven boards and eight steals. Alia Diop tacked on 11 points, four blocks, four steals and three rebounds.

Next up for Dulles is Macy Spencer and a fantastic Tompkins squad. Nya Threatt is every bit as good as Spencer and this should be another heavyweight showdown for the Lady Vikings. Tip off is at 7:30 Tuesday night at the Merrell Center.

Austin wins area round for the first time in school history

There’s no better feeling than making history, and the Austin Lady Bulldogs can say they’ve done something no other team has done in the 27-year history of the school.

Austin first beat Cinco Ranch 63-50 before advancing to play a district champion in Houston Memorial. Gabby Johnson racked up 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs to go with four blocks in the 62-48 win against Memorial. Pretty impressive considering basketball isn’t even Johnson’s best sport; she’s signed to play volleyball at Tennessee State.

Next up for Austin is another tall task: beat Justice Carlton and Seven Lakes. For Johnson and the supporting cast at Austin, Carlton and the Lady Spartans pose a real challenge after two double-digit wins to start the playoffs. This game should be a close one and the winner will get the winner of North Shore and Pearland.

Boys' Playoff Preview

While the girls’ have advanced to the regional quarterfinals, boys’ playoffs begin this week and the bracket is solidified. It feels as if the Houston area has more ranked teams than usual this season which should make for a interesting playoffs. A few things stand out in 6A Region III right off the bat.

The top-ranked team in Houston this season has consistently been Spring Westfield, who plays in Region II. State-ranked Cy Ranch and Cy Falls are also in Region II. That means more room to operate for the powerhouses in Region III. Fifth-ranked Elkins will avoid playing a state-ranked opponent until the regional quarterfinals when it would take on No. 19 Seven Lakes should each win the first two rounds. The winner of that game would likely await the winner of No. 6 Dickinson and No. 15 Shadow Creek in the regional semifinal.

The top portion of the bottom half of the Region III bracket has no state ranked teams, while the bottom-most portion of the Region III bracket will be a fist fight in a phone booth. It features my favorite first round matchup between Dawson and Clear Brook. It also features a potentially great second round matchup between Atascocita and Clear Falls. While it will be a fun region, the winner of the top half of the region – likely either Elkins or Dickinson – will be the favorites to win Region III.

For Region II, the matchup that stands out right off the bat is state-ranked Cy Ranch and Tomball Memorial, who had a fantastic season. Cy Ranch will likely be favored to win the first three rounds before running into the buzz-saw that is No. 2 Duncanville. In the bottom half of Region II, it would be no surprise to see a matchup between No. 3 Westfield and No. 13 Cy Falls in round three. I think each team gets there and I think the winner plays Duncanville in the Region II title game. Duncanville is the heavy favorite in this region.

In 5A Region III, Paetow versus Kingwood Park could be a really fun matchup in round three, with the winner of Crosby and Marshall waiting in round four. The talent in 5A for Houston isn’t as deep as 6A, and No. 1 Beaumont United resides in the bottom half of Region III. I’m interested to see who among the four I just mentioned will represent the top half of the bracket in the Region III title game and if they can take down United for a trip to San Antonio.

Players of the Week

My girls’ player-of-the-week is Gabby Johnson! She helped Austin make history by advancing to the third round, and, as mentioned above… basketball isn’t even her best sport! But hey, maybe her volleyball coach at Tennessee State will let her hoop too. It would be a shame if she didn’t! Johnson scored 24 to lead Austin past 27-4 Memorial and she’ll have another tough test against Seven Lakes in round four.

My boys’ player-of-the-week is Joey Clavin! He came up big with 20 points to help secure a playoff spot for Langham Creek. The Lobos needed a win against Cy Springs to advance to the playoffs and needed all 20 of Clavin’s points to do it. They’ll face Klein in round one.

State Rankings

Here are the state-wide rankings for February 14 as we enter the playoffs.

Westfield continues to be the class of Houston this season, holding down the No. 3 spot once again. The Mustangs are followed by Elkins (5), Dickinson (6), Atascocita (11), Cy Ranch (12), Cy Falls (13), Pearland Dawson (14), Shadow Creek (15), Seven Lakes (19) and College Park (22).

Class 5A is paced by Katy Paetow at No.8, followed by Crosby (10), Marshall (11), Hightower (16) and Kingwood Park (18). Class 4A features Washington at No. 3, followed by Stafford (8), Brazosport (12) and La Marque (21). The lone ranked squad in class 3A is New Waverly at No. 15.