The Cooldown: Week 27

Cover Photo courtesy of Matthew LeJune, Unsplash Photos.

All good things must come to an end, and we’ve just about hit the end of the road for basketball season. With the girls’ state championships in the books, we’re left with just Atascocita and Hitchcock representing Houston at the boys’ state tournament. Check out what each did to punch tickets to San Antonio and preview what awaits for them.

Atascocita returns to state with win against Shadow Creek

Atascocita will make its second trip to San Antonio in as many years for the state tournament after successfully defending its 6A Region III title against Shadow Creek.

The Eagles simply out-shot a hot Shadow Creek squad en route to a convincing 67-51 victory. The senior class was on full display in this game; Atascocita seniors Landyn Jumawan and AJ Aungst scored 13 apiece to lead the Eagles while Shadow Creek seniors Cam Amboree and Shawn Jones totaled 18 and 14 respectively.

The senior-laden Eagles return to San Antonio with a tall order to fill. They’ll face Duncanville, who ranks fifth in the nation according to USA Today, in the state semifinals.

Hitchcock out-lasts Diboll to advance to state

Sometimes all it takes is one difference maker to push a team over the top. Fortunately for Hitchcock, they have Damien McDaniel.

McDaniel – just a sophomore – scored 26 points to propel Hitchcock past Diboll, 60-52, and into the state tournament. A’Aderius Blanks and Christian Dorsey scored 10 apiece to account for most of Hitchcock’s scoring. Percy Chavis and Jathen Garcia – the only seniors to score for Diboll – led the way with 13 and 11 points respectively.

Hitchcock returns to the state tournament for the first time in 18 years and will face Shaq’s alma mater, San Antonio Cole, for the right to play for a state title.

State Tournament Preview

Atascocita and Hitchcock will represent Houston on the biggest stage, so let’s take a look at what each did to get here.

Atascocita finished the season with a record of 34-6, losing just one district game. The losses came to Clear Brook by two points, class 5A No. 1 Beaumont United by six, Harker Heights by one, Bridgeland by seven, Westfield by seven and Summer Creek by three. In other words, Atascocita has been competitive in every game it has played this season.

In the playoffs, the Eagles beat Deer Park, Clear Falls, Dawson and Shadow Creek by double digits. They beat Clements 61-54. It’s been an impressive run for Atascocita, but they haven’t faced anyone quite like Duncanville – who opened its season with an 89-38 win against the same Shadow Creek squad Atascocita just beat 67-51.

Of course, plenty has changed over the four months since Duncanville’s opening night thrashing of the Sharks. But the Panthers still have played a national schedule to great success. The lone loss came against Richardson, 60-58 in overtime at the Whataburger Tournament over winter break. Duncanville features five-star guard Anthony Black and Ashton Hardaway, the son of former NBA star Penny Hardaway; the Panthers are making a fourth-straight trip to the state tournament.

Duncanville will be a heavy favorite as one of the five best high school teams in America. It will take a major upset for Atascocita advance, but it isn’t impossible. The key to stopping Duncanville is make the game ugly, to play great defense. Atascocita has shown time and again this season that it can do that.

For Hitchcock, the Bulldogs enter San Antonio with a record of 31-5, with no district losses. Most of those five losses came early in the season. The Bulldogs lost by 10 to 5A Texas City, lost to 6A Clear Creek by eight in overtime, lost to 5A Jacksonville by 17, lost to 4A Center by three and lost to 4A Waco Connally by six.

It bodes well that Hitchcock enters the state tournament – its third in school history – having not lost to a 3A school this season. Cole enters the state tournament with a record of 31-8 and, much like Hitchcock, many of those losses came against schools in larger classifications. Cole has won every playoff game by double digits. This should be one of the more evenly matched state semifinal games. If they win, they’ll play the winner of Dallas Madison and City View for a state title.

Players of the Week

With the girls’ season over but with only two boys’ programs heading to state, it only makes sense to continue with selecting two players-of-the-week, one for each team heading to state.

My players-of-the-week each led their team in scoring to propel Atascocita and Hitchcock to their respective state tournaments. Landyn Jumawan scored 13 and Damien McDaniel exploded for 26 points to lead Hitchcock. Best of luck to each at state!