Monday, February 3, 2014

End of Season Quick Hitters

Playoffs are here! The real season begins and here are some observations from the end of the regular season.

Anissa Hastings earns her first of what should be many district titles in her career. Stevens wrapped up the title over a surprisingly good O'Connor team. Jules Rendon had a huge district championship game, finishing with 27 points and 5 assists. Rendon is an unsigned senior and worthy of some college looks. Hastings has brought to Stevens a hard driving that style that helped her become a University of Texas basketball player. She refuses to baby players and is old school in her approach.

O'Connor's HS Carmen Wilson did a great job this season leading her vertically challenged team to 2nd in 27-5A. Wilson lead her squad to good wins over Brenham(#8 in 4-A) and SA Express News Top 10 teams Wagner and Churchill. Junior guard Amber Vidal averaged 13 and Kasey Saldana chipped in 11.5 for the balanced scoring attack. O'Connor finished the last TABC poll ranked #25 in state of 5-A. Coach Wilson lead a team with a free flowing offense that had two additional players average 9 points a game, Victoria Pena and Shelby Miller.

How good is Brennan? Better yet how sharp will they be after a cakewalk through district? Will we see the team that beat O'Connor 70-17 in November? Or will we see a team that has not been challenged much as of late. Word is that Brennan undertakes a college style practice where the frosh boys team keeps them sharp by giving them a taste of their own medicine. How do you beat the #1 ranked team in 4-A? Zoning them may not be the wisest strategy. Brennan has four players shooting at least 40% from 3, led in percentage by freshman Meagan Valdez hitting 43% of her attempts. A fifth player, Kalani Marquez is signed on to play at St Mary's and strokes it at 35% from the arc. And since numbers don't lie, how about post players shooting 51%(Eliza Martinez/6'1), 51%(Deja Mason/6'4) and 63%(Tia Mason/6'2). Anything but a state title from the Bears would be disappointing.

Speaking of Brennan, state titles and the last name Marquez, the Bears principal Gerardo Marquez is the kind of leader athletes hope for. Principal Marquez was Coach Marquez when he led Fox Tech boys to a state championship in the mid 90's. He was principal at John Jay HS when the Mustangs won the boys title in the early 2000's. When he became principal at Brennan, Randy Evans wanted the boys job but had to settle for the girls position instead after Wagner coach Tina Camacho stayed put. Marquez had a young coach he mentored in mind for the boys position in Tommy Hines. Coach Hines had just finished coaching the greatest statistical scorer in city history at Lee HS, Paul Garnica(Northern Colorado/UTPA). It is no wonder that John Azzinaro (Bucknell), George King (Colorado), Jordan Murphy (offers from Maryland,Baylor,etc) have thrived under Coach Hines, who understands how to coach HS stars. Back to the girls, after Randy Evans rode the talented Brennan girls to an undefeated record and his first coach of the year award in 20 plus years of coaching and transferred, to Johnson HS, Marquez had the foresight to do what many lack the courage to do; get parents involved! Marquez set up a hiring committee of parents to help him choose the next basketball coach. The parents were uniquely positioned to know what their girls did not want and chose Koty Cowgill. If Brennan wins the title, Marquez would have been involved in the last 3 champions the city has produced in basketball. Sounds like an elite leader to me!

Realignment is out and Brennan will join the big girls of what is now 27-6A. The new changes will see that Clemens and Steele join up in 25-6A with Judson and Wagner to form one of the 3 power district  in the city. 26-6A will stay in tact and is the other "power district" in the city.  

 In what is now 26-5A, Reagan has wrapped up a 4th consecutive title. This gives Rice bound guard Wendy Knight her 4th title in her playing career. In a conference that has sent over a dozen kids to the D1 level since her debut as a freshman, what Knight and her Rattlers have done is remarkable. Though the two-time , soon to be three-time, Super Teamer is one of the most successful players in city history, Terry Barton is another leader that deserves so much of the credit. Coach Barton has allowed Knight to grow her college aspirations and win! The 5'9 sharp shooter has never played in the post. To outsiders reading this, this is a non-issue. However, in her own district currently, I can name two D1 bound guards that routinely play in the post for a coach that chases wins over development. Kudos to Terry Barton and congrats to the wonderful Wendy Knight!

New Comer of the Year should be interesting this year. The front runners seemingly are two of the brightest kids in the nation in the class of 2017. Kiana Williams and Gabby Connally both had outstanding campaigns .Connally lead third place Brandeis is scoring at 14.7 points a game. Williams averaged 9.5 points a game for a balanced scoring attack for the district champ, Wagner. Both prospects are rated in the Top 60 in the nation.

 Speaking of Williams, the freshman guard recently picked up another D1 offer, this one from the University of Washington. The Kansas Jayhawks, a school that offered the Willimas last July, will be in town tomorrow to sit on the PG. Williams benefitted greatly from the additional exposure of playing in the Sandra Meadow Classic in December and a match-up vs Top 100 guard Japreece Dean. The super quick Dean has jumped up recruiting boards across the country and has visited Texas Tech and Oklahoma State recently. The Wagner coach understands the importance of scheduling tough to prepare her kids and her team for high school games and beyond.

Playoffs Predictions coming.........