Houston HS basketball primer: March 2
1. Deer Park boys doing it well
The Deer Park boys did something they hadn’t done in the playoffs in 40 years last week, claiming an area-round victory with a 46-40 upset of District 23-6A champion Dawson, but they weren’t satisfied. They followed it with a convincing 75-61 dismissal of 24-6A champion Clear Lake - which defeated the Deer 66-64 in November - sending them to this week’s Region III-6A tournament at the Berry Center.
“It’s definitely an exciting time we’re going through,” coach Darren Chandler said.
It’s exciting for the players, the staff, the school and the entire community. Chandler’s top assistants, Ryan Bright and Oscar Madrigal, played at Deer Park, without experiencing this type of success. Neither has Chandler, a La Porte graduate, in previous head coaching stops at Clear Falls and Friendswood.
“I’ve had some really good teams in the past that didn’t go this far,” Chandler said. “This region is a bear. It’s tough.”
So is 6-5 forward Tristan Ikpe, who supplied 12 points, eight rebounds and six blocks against Dawson. Zach Walker scored 25 points against Clear Lake, helping the Deer post their 30th win of the season and reach the regional semifinals.
2. Sam Houston ends Cy Falls’ reign
Third-round playoff games don’t get any better. In what’s becoming an annual playoff showdown, the 11th-ranked Tigers toppled the defending Class 6A champion, No. 3 Cypress Falls, 65-64 in two overtimes at Delmar Fieldhouse. They led the entire night, by as many as 15 points in the third, before the champs made their move in the fourth and eventually took their first lead, 60-58, in the second OT. But Kendric Davis, who had 13 points, eight assists and five steals, hit two free throws with 21.6 seconds left, and Trajan Wesley, who had a game-high 28 points, missed a layup at the buzzer, and the Tigers held on for their second playoff win over Cy Falls in three years. The last time they won, in 2016, they went on to the state tournament.
“I told them, ‘Hey, this is what a championship game is supposed to be like,’” Sam Houston coach Ralph Barreras said. “If you want to be a champion, you’ve got to beat the champion, and you’ve got to beat them in a championship(-type) game. Everybody’s going to be talking about this game for a while.”
3. Wild finishes abound in playoffs
Sam Houston’s double-overtime victory, which nearly went the other way - Nigel Hawkins had a steal and dunk at the end of the first OT, but he flushed it just after the buzzer - was only the latest Houston-area playoff game ending in dramatic fashion. The madness began with Barbers Hill blowing a nine-point lead in the final minute of regulation in their OT loss to Temple in the Region III-5A girls semifinals, then continued with Monday’s boys regional quarters. No. 4 Dekaney downed No. 21 Klein Forest 73-72 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Malcolm Epps, who scored 28 points, and No. 17 Tompkins took down No. 13 Bush on a controversial call. Eden Holt was fouled on a wild 3-point attempt with 0.4 seconds left, then hit two free throws for a 61-59 win at Seven Lakes, whose gym wasn’t nearly big enough to fit the hundreds of fans stranded outside.
4. Yates, Silsbee on collision course
No. 2 Yates, which secured its last state title in 2014, and No. 1 Silsbee, the reigning 4A champion, remained on a collision course with third-round playoff wins this week. The Lions are rolling, averaging 111.7 points through their first three playoff games, with the closest a 111-78 win over Cleveland. They smacked Hardin-Jefferson 114-56 Monday, and Silsbee sank Scarborough 99-76. Yates takes on Liberty Hill in the Region III-4A semifinals, and Silsbee faces Pflugerville Connally. The regional championship game is 1 p.m. Saturday at Sam Houston State’s Johnson Coliseum.
5. Elkins heading to 5A regional tourney
The No. 10 Elkins Knights are the last 5A team from Houston standing after making quick work of Madison, 84-61, in the Region III-5A quarterfinals. No. 4 Port Arthur Memorial handled No. 18 Humble, 67-56, on the other side of the bracket, and No. 21 Foster and Terry - a 62-61 loser to San Antonio Alamo Heights on a last-second free throw - both fell in the Region IV-5A quarters.
6. Cy Creek girls’ turn to shine
The Cy Creek girls, who face Plano in the 6A semis Friday in San Antonio, are the fifth Cy-Fair ISD girls team to make the state tournament since 2010, when Cy-Fair won its second title in three years. Cy Falls went in 2012, Cy Woods in 2015 - when it won a title - and Cy Ranch last season. “I’m really proud of this group,” Creek coach Jennifer Alexander said.
7. Wheatley making state debut
The No. 8 Wheatley girls are in the state tournament for the first time after beating rival Yates 55-51 for the Region III-4A championship behind 25 points from sophomore Telisha Brown, who scored 18 in the fourth. But they have their work cut out Friday, facing three-time defending state champ Argyle in the semis.
8. Tompkins vs. Deer Park boys
When/where: 6 p.m. Friday, Berry Center
The loaded Falcons, led by Jamal Bieniemy and Kristian Sjolund, continue their deepest playoff push after surviving Bush’s best shot. Next up is upstart Deer Park, which is unranked but on fire.
9. Cy Creek vs.Plano girls
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday, Alamodome, San Antonio
In San Antonio, the No. 7 Cougars take on No. 8 Plano, the team that shocked two-time reigning champ Duncanville, which kept Cy Ranch and Cy Falls from winning it all in their respective state trips in 2017 and 2012..
10. Eisenhower vs.South Garland boys
When/where: 8 p.m. Friday, Davis Fieldhouse, Dallas
Don’t forget about Big Ike. The 15th-ranked Eagles hit 30 wins with a 56-50 win over Pflugerville, sending them to the Region II-6A tournament. They face the No. 5 Colonels in the semifinals in Dallas.