Inside High School Sports Houston | The Cooldown: Week 28
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03/14/22

The Cooldown: Week 28

Photo courtesy of alamodome.com

Duncanville put a bow on the boys basketball state tournament as they usually do by winning a state title. It’s the third-straight state title for the Panthers, not counting the canceled 2020 state tournament the Panthers were also supposed to take part in before COVID canceled it. For what it’s worth, Dickinson is still my 2020 state champion.

While this isn’t the end of the 2021-22 athletic year, it is the end of our coverage season here at IHSS. Our last show of the season will air this Saturday at 11 p.m. as it has all season. The end of our year provides a good reflection point, for both this season and compared to the last two years. In the final “Cooldown” of the year, check out our state tournament recap and year in review.

Atascocita botches hot start, loses to Duncanville

Atascocita came out firing on all cylinders for the first 11 minutes of its state semifinal showdown with Duncanville. The Eagles started off shooting 12-of-18 from the field and had an iron grip on the Panthers will a 30-10 lead in the early stages of the second quarter.

Angel Johnson got the party started with a three-pointer before Landyn Jumawan cashed in on two from deep on back-to-back possessions and a David Martinez three-ball capped off a quick 12-0 run to give the Eagles a 20-point advantage. Jumawan was out-scoring Duncanville by himself at that point. Then, the Panthers ratcheted up the defensive pressure.

Over the final four minutes of the half, Duncanville out-scored Atascocita 9-2. The Eagles still took a sizeable – and promising – 32-19 lead to the locker room. That promise wouldn’t last. Atascocita scored just four points in the second half. After the Martinez three-pointer to put the Eagles up by 20, Atascocita was out-scored 40-6 to close the game. Don’t blame them though, that’s just Duncanville. The Panthers went on to beat Atascocita 50-36 and captured another 6A state title the next night.

The Panthers’ shortest starter is 6-foot-7. Every Atascocita starter is under 6-7, making it a miracle the Eagles took a 14-13 rebounding advantage to halftime. When every rotation player for a team is at least 6-7, the length gets suffocating which helps explain why Atascocita mustered just six points in the final 21 minutes. It was a hellacious attack from a hungry Duncanville squad that features Ashton Hardaway – whose father, you might know, coaches the Memphis Tigers – and five-star guard Anthony Black, who spent his first three years of high school playing at Coppell, northwest of Dallas. I’ll leave y’all to your own conclusions.

Regardless, Atascocita was never considered the proverbial “top dog” in Houston this season. When the playoffs began, the Eagles were ranked behind Westfield, Elkins and Dickinson and just ahead of Cy Falls and Cy Ranch. This team had no big time recruits unlike most teams that make the state tournament.

That’s a testament to players like Jumawan, Martinez and Johnson and the culture of that program. This was perhaps one of coach David Martinez’ best coaching jobs, and two of his previous teams at Atascocita made the state tournament. By the way, that’s not to be confused with his player, also named David Martinez.

Atascocita played Duncanville – who ranks in the top five in the nation according to USA Today and ESPN – as well as any team in the state for three-and-a-half quarters. The Eagles led heading into the fourth, something only Richardson can say they did this season. It’s another season to be proud of for Martinez’ squad.

Hitchcock falls to Cole in state semifinals

San Antonio Cole got back to the state championship game with a narrow 53-49 win against Hitchcock, but couldn’t repeat as it fell to Dallas Madison in the 3A title game.

It was a tale of two halves for each team. Cole raced out to a 19-5 lead at the end of the first quarter that included a 16-0 run in the first four minutes. That lead held serve in the second quarter with Cole taking a 28-13 advantage to halftime. Hitchcock found itself on the ropes but didn’t quit. The Bulldogs came storming back in the second half and trailed by nine entering the fourth.

Hitchcock cut the Cole lead to as little as two points with nine seconds left after Christian Dorsey converted a free throw on an and-one, but the Bulldogs had to foul and put Cole on the line with such little time left. Cole hit free throws and that was that.

Dorsey and Lloyd Jones III led the way with 12 points apiece and Damien McDaniel followed closely behind with 11 points. It was an outstanding season for Hitchcock, who made its first state tournament appearance since 2004. Dorsey played in his final game last weekend, but the Bulldogs figure to be dominant again bringing back McDaniel and Jones next season.

Year in Review

What a year it was. Hitchcock and Atascocita represented Houston at the boys state tournament while Summer Creek was the lone torch bearer at the girls state tournament. In football, North Shore and Katy Paetow were the Houston representatives at state, and each won its respective title games to bring home the only state championships for the IHSS coverage sports.

Most importantly, we had what was at worst a “mostly normal” season. Some games across the state were canceled or moved due to COVID; some athletes had to miss games due to COVID. But it wasn’t near as weird as last year was. We returned to holiday tournaments for hoops and packed stands in all sports. Seeing more than 45,000 people at North Shore’s football state title game was a refreshing feeling compared to the capped 16,000 that showed up for the same game in 2020.

Another aspect was not just being able to have a normal state basketball tournament, but being able to have one at all. Two years ago this week, Dickinson and others had state title dreams crushed by a virus that forced all of us inside with nothing to do. That memory is still fresh to me and many others. I’ll never take for granted the opportunity to crown state champions after what we all went through in 2020. I’ll never take for granted the ability to see the amazing support of so many communities across the state to show up and support our athletes.

There are too many good teams, good players and good memories to shout out from the 2021-22 season, so I’ll just say this: It’s been a blast being able to take it all in and have the opportunity to write about it over the course of the last 29 weeks. I can only hope 2022-23 is just as good, thank you to all the teams and players that made this season a great one.

With that being said, I'll sign off with our Houston-area All-Star Team.