The team currently ranked #10 in the state for 5A came into San Antonio and won the NEISD Tournament. Hightower won the championship against a stubborn MacArthur team by the score of 54-50. The game was a moral victory in some ways. Some notes follow:
MacArthur repping 26-5A- I was starting to wonder how good the district was. Roosevelt being thumped by Jay, Madison suffering the same at the hands of not only Jay but O'Connor, MacArthur losing to Stevens by double figures and Reagan losing at home to Steele all indicated that this may be a down year for 26-5A. MacArthur erased some of the perception with a spirited effort. Hightower had a very good little guard named Brittney Matthew, who pretty much did as she pleased the entire event. However, Karisa Cantu played extremely well against her and was not bothered by her pesky defense. Cantu attacked in straight lines and touched the paint throughout the game. I knew Cantu had a good handle but she was especially impressive this weekend. I was very surprised that she did not make the all-tournament team. Marquisha Sparks had a strong tourney and Nichole Kindred was solid as well. Both made the all-tournament team. The Brahmas may be asserting themselves as the front runners for 26-5A.
Arlene Cisneros- Cisneros, aka Annie Oakley, is a gunner. The small guard for O'Connor is unorthodox to say the least. First, she uses her right foot as her primary pivot foot when shooting. Usually, right handed shooters step into their shots using the left foot as the primary pivot foot. Second, Cisneros dips the ball to her right hip when shooting. She literally resembles a wild west shooter grabbing her pistol from a side holster before letting fly. The footwork, dip and release is contrary to every shooting truth out there but the results are effective. She gets it off quickly and in the faces of opposing defenders.(Nichole Kindred kept Cisneros in check during the Mac game and deserves a lot of credit for her team beating O'Connor. The long and athletic Kindred took the defensive assignment personal and was instrumental in the win).
O'Connor- Sitting behind the O'Connor bench I heard the best coaching advise that I have heard in a long time. Coach Karmen Wilson told her guards "I do not care what you do, just get it done". I loved it! Imagine that, a coach letting her players play! O'Connor has good guard play with Cisneros, Michelle Navarro and Justina Chapa. I particularly like how savvy Navarro is. The lefty always has her head up the floor and unlike a lot of guards in the event, she constantly passes the ball up the floor to keep pressure on the defense. She takes what the defense gives her by penetrating or hitting open jumpers. The back court is complimented by Ebony Easter. The undersized post player is one of the better post scorers in the city. The 5'9 sophomore will be a guard in college and has improved her handle considerably. O'Connor initiates some of the offense through her at the high post and Easter causes serious match-up problems for opposing Bigs. Speaking of Bigs, Nina Checotah has upside! The underused 6'2 lefty needs a little polish but showed flashes of promise throughout the event.
CeCe Harper- When speaking with Harper's mother before the O'Connor game, I commented that CeCe would have to score 40 points if Madison was going to keep it close. CeCe went out and scored 39 out of her teams 64 points, but could not will the Mavs to victory. The show she put on in the second half was something to behold. She dribbled through the O'Connor pressure like they were cones. She weaved in and out of defenders for layups, she hit at least 5 threes from NBA range and dropped plenty of dimes that were in all honesty, DROPPED. Harper went from a team that featured 3 other college players (Monica Engleman, Ashley Jordin and Alisha Crump) to a relatively inexperienced current team. I almost feel sorry for Harper until I am remember she has won a district championship and will play for the nationally ranked Kansas Jayhawks next year.
Reagan- The Rattlers had the eventual tourney champ, Hightower down double digits at halftime before succumbing to the defensive pressure. Unfortunately for Reagan, they had to face Hightower in the second round. The more I observe Terry Barton, the more impressed I get. He gets a lot out of his kids. His team is always disciplined and well prepared. I watched his squad turn Steele's press into a lay up drill a couple of weeks ago. His team did the same to Hightower in the first half until Hightower's coach realized that the Rattlers were well coached. The half court defense and superior guard play eventually overwhelmed them. One thing is for sure, the Rattlers will not lose due to being out coached.