The NEISD Tournament provided a good look at a few of the better teams in the city. Four of the Top 10 teams in the city according to SA Express played in the event. Churchill, Roosevelt, Reagan, and Incarnate Word all showed why they are among the best the city has to offer. Tournament notes follow:
-Leslie Vorpahl is a Coaches Dream- The Churchill pg was named Tournament MVP after leading her Lady Chargers to a win over Reagan in the Championship. Reagan started off blazing hot and ran out to a 14-2 lead. Churchill coach Cal Wulfsberg sat calmly knowing that the game was in the hands of his very capable on-court pilot. Vorpahl kept her team in it early by scoring in double figures in the first half on her way to a game high 21 points. What is most impressive about the scoring effort was that it was against one of the best on-ball defenders in the city, Reagan's Moriah Mack. Vorpahl kept Mack in foul trouble throughout the game with her trademark change of speed. Vorpahl does a brilliant job at getting into the defenders hips when attacking.
Vorpahl is giving Coach Wulfberg the essential ingredient in the majority of successful high school teams; a good point guard. Please recall the better teams in recent SA history and that most of them, if not all, had very good point guards. Last years John Jay team featured the young but very good Destiny Amezquita. The great Wagner teams featured current USC pg Len'Nique Brown. The 3-Time state Tournament Steele teams featured current Southern Illinois pg Olivia Patterson. Great point guards not only get teams in their offensive schemes and easy shots for others but more more importantly, they take care of the basketball. Turnovers are empty possessions. The above mentioned teams feasted on weak point guards on the defensive end. Wagner, Jay and Steele past teams used full court presses and aggressive man defense to expose bad point guards. Or, they trapped good point guards to get the ball out of their hands and let the poor ball handlers and passers on opposing teams make decisions. This inevitably led to more turnovers for the competition and more possessions for them.
(A Sidenote: How were teams like Wagner and Steele able to keep so many talented players happy? PRESS PRESS and MORE PRESS. Pressing not only speeds up the game but creates more possessions via turnovers. More possessions equate to more shot attempts . More shot attempts equals more opportunities for players to eat. And eating keeps everyone happy! Or at least somewhat content.)
In the championship of the NEISD event, the point guard match up was won by Vorphal and the game followed suit. That is not to speak negatively about Reagan's point guard(s). Reagan plays point guard by committee. This fact changed the game. On 5 consecutive trips in the second half, Reagan turned the ball over. During this time, Churchill went on a 17-4 run by my count. The main reason, Churchill limited their turnovers by keeping the ball in the hands of the kid most suited to make intelligent basketball decisions, Leslie Vorpahl.
- Speaking of capable play makers, Tori Villareal is so underrated. During a the game versus Reagan on Friday night, Villareal showed why she is one of the best players in the city, when she wants to be. Her Incarnate Word team was getting dominated by Reagan early. Defensive stopper Moriah Mack was making things extremely difficult for IW point guard Maureen Zuniga. That is when IW Coach Troy Patterson called on Villareal to exert herself. She promptly stopped hiding under the basket in her position as a small forward for the Shamrocks and took over point guard duties. She simply put on a show. She used her strong frame and behind the back wrap dribble to score and dish at will. She hit three's in opponents faces and finished And 1's at the rim. She almost single handily kept IW in the game. In the end, Reagan pulled out a close game but Villareal was easily the best player on the court and finished with 22 point and at least half a dozen assists. My only knock on her is that she should have shot the ball more in the second half. She was unguardable!
-In an earlier Blog, I stated that Churchill has "AT LEAST" three kids that will average double digits in scoring. I mentioned Vorpahl, Carly Truesdale and Danni Espinoza but I had an inkling that they could have four players in double digits. The "fourth" player is a pretty good high school guard in her own right, Jordan Holub. Holub is effective at getting in the paint to create shots and can also hit open jump shots. She is wonderful when the ball gets to the third or fourth side of the floor in the Lady Chargers continuous offense. She capitalizes on weak defensive rotations and attacks the middle well. Holub makes Churchill tough to defend for an entire game.
-Ebony Easter is the "do-everything" player for O'Connor. She boards, facilitates out of the post and scores. She still has tremendous upside being that she is playing out of her college position in service of her high school team.
- Sune Agbuke and her Cornerstone team played in the event. Though they did not fair very well, it did give high school fans a look at the best college prospect in the city. Agbuke is signed to attend Baylor next season. However, the event did illustrate an important fact; No matter how good a Big may be, they are ineffective if they can not get the ball.
-Roosevelt can be very good if all the pieces come together. When Niaga Mitchell-Cole realizes that she is one of the best players in the state of Texas, her team will be as good as any in the city. She scored 26 points in one game and 1 point in another. It is not that she is inconsistent, she is just content in letting others shine or attempt to shine. That is entirely OK until they face teams as good as they are and there is no clear pecking order established among the team. ROLES! Everybody must learn their roles. The best teams have players and offensive schemes that establish roles in the clutch. Without such understanding of the importance of roles, a good team stays a good team. Not to sound redundant but the recent great SA teams knew this so Erica Donovan has the ball in her hands for John Jay. Meighan Simmons had the ball in her hands for Steele. Len'Nique Brown had the ball in her hands for Wagner. All three of these players played with talented supporting casts but in the clutch, everybody played their role and the Alpha Female was allowed to do what she does best, LEAD!!!!
- East Central is very athletic defensively!
- Madison moves the ball so well of offense that it probably hurts them at times. Again, wrong players making crucial decisions or jacking up shots. Illustrates how important CeCe Harper(Kansas) was to their success. Tracy Hastings does a great job at teaching trapping pick and rolls. On most pick and rolls vs Antonian, the Lady Mavs hard trapped the ball handler and rotated defensively on secondary options. UT Coach Gail Goestenkors is one of the best at teaching the hard trap on high pick and rolls. I often wonder why more high school coaches do not teach this defensive strategy.
-Incarnate Word Coach Troy Patterson has his team running a 3/4 court 1-2-2 trap that shrinks the court for opposing teams. This press defense is pretty impressive as it makes opposing teams execute passes vs traps and into tighter gaps. It is also very effective at getting the ball out of the hands of good point guards but limits their ability to throw over the top of the press for break away layups.
- Del Rio's Rachel Green gets buckets! Former Smithson Valley Coach Jim Jost now leads Del Rio and does a great job at letting Green go!
- Antonian's Victoria Briones is the best in the city at using her butt to rebound , fight for position, defend and pivot. This explains explains why the 5'8 Briones routinely grabs double digit boards and defends bigger players in the post effectively. Too often players grab rebounds and "get skinny". This often leads to tie ups, steals and off balance traveling violations. Briones grabs a board and immediately creates or maintains space by checking defenders with her butt. Many young players fail to realize that post play is among other things a "butt and back game". Effective post players know that they read defenders by using their butt and back. How often does Tim Duncan catch the ball in the post and lean back? This "lean back" technique enables Duncan to locate the defenders position and then he goes to an offensive counter based on that initial read. Briones is also a warrior. She is playing with a fractured finger on her shooting hand.