The Dickinson Gators started the year 2-3, but quickly hit their stride. By late December, the Gators were feasting on every opponent on their schedule. Dickinson won the prestigious Allen Invitational Tournament over the holiday break, and carried that momentum over into district play. The Gators cruised through 24-6A action with a perfect 12-0 league record, winning eleven of those by double digits. But the dynamic senior duo of Tramon Mark and Marcus Williams were just beginning to make their marks. The senior standouts led the Gators through a daunting Region 3 bracket that included wins over Alief Hastings, state-ranked foes North Shore, Atascocita, and Morton Ranch, and then eventually Bellaire in the regional final. Once again, Dickinson won all but one of those by double-digits, with only Bellaire managing to stay within nine points of the Gators. For the season, Mark averaged 29 points and 6 rebounds, while Williams added 21 points and 7 assists. The Gators hold a 22-game winning streak and earned Dickinson’s first trip to state in 65 years.
Similar to Dickinson, Fort Bend Hightower also stumbled out of the blocks, beginning the season 4-4. But the Hurricanes were blowing past opponents soon after, winning 29 of the next 30 games. Eight seniors complement sophomore sensation Bryce Griggs, who poured in 24 points a game this year for the ‘Canes. Hightower avenged an early district loss to Shadow Creek by beating the Sharks 80-64 in front of a sell-out crowd that included Texans Quarterback DeShaun Watson. After sharing the league crown with Shadow Creek, both programs cruised through the first four rounds of the playoffs to set up Round 3 in the 5A Region 3 Final. Griggs dropped a eye-popping 43 points to lead the Hurricanes to their fourth state appearance, and first trip since 2011.
Two area teams won regional championships in Class 4A. Let’s start with Yates, who spent much of the season ranked number one in the state. After losing in the state semifinals last year, the Lions were on a mission to earn a return trip to San Antonio this season. Much like Dickinson and Hightower, Yates opened the season with a 3-4 record before reeling off 23 consecutive victories. Furthermore, three of the Lions four losses came to out-of-state prep schools, and their only Lone Star defeat came to a private school from the San Antonio area. Yates’ last loss came way back in November, and on December 3rd, the Lions began a stretch of 21 straight games scoring at least 100 points to shatter the national high school record. Yates completely dominated the 4A Region 3 bracket, winning every game by at least 29 points, to earn the program’s eighth trip to the state final four.
Joining Yates at state in Class 4A is Stafford. The Spartans reeled off a 19-game win streak that began on New Year’s Eve, as they swept through District 25-4A. It was a remarkable turnaround for Stafford after the Spartans went 16-19 a year ago. The Spartans were led by seven seniors this season, but with six juniors set to return, Stafford will look for another regional championship next year. This season marks Stafford’s 7th trip to the state final four, but the program’s first since 2010. It’s quite an achievement, and one that Head Coach David Montano started to think was possible when we interviewed him back in late January.