A fluid consistent offense is what is needed to win a high school basketball game. Well, that and making your free throws. Both proved to be obstacles that Atascocita could not overcome in their District 21-5A loss to Humble.
Humble started off the game with a greater intensity, stealing the ball on consecutive plays and causing turnovers on two others. However, the Lady Eagles defense stood firm and kept the Lady Wildcats in check for a 6-6 tie at the end of the first period.
The second period began Eagle guard Ashanti Richardson knifing through the lane and earning free throws after being fouled on her shot attempt. Richardson made good on one of the two freebies, giving the Eagles the early lead. Humble responded with two easy baskets and took over the lead, 10-7.
Eagle forward Nadia Taylor got the ball deep on the baseline and dribbled through a host of Wildcat defenders before fighting for a basket that pulled Atascocita within one point. Once again, Humble responded and reeled an 8-4 run on the backs of (#11) and (#54), and took a commanding 18-13 lead.
The Wildcats extended their lead to eight points, 24-16 as the first half ended, thanks in large part to transition baskets and fast-breaks.
"We are at our best when we are running the ball," Wildcat coach Blair Redmon said. "We have to play at our pace."
The Lady Eagles made it a closer game in the third period after better passing provided easier looks to the basket. Taylor picked up where she left off, scoring the first three points of the half for Atascocita and pulling her team within five points. Kayla Boggs hit an open jumper and Richardson connected on one of two free throws to close the gap to 22-24 before Humble even scored a point.
Wildcat post (#20) began assert herself, blocking shots and putting back missed baskets to help Humble keep their lead as the third period ended, 26-25.
Humble's defense set the tone in the fourth quarter as they only allowed four Eagle points. More shut down defense by (#20) opened up opportunities for Humble to run off 11 points in the quarter and sealing the win, 37-29.
"For the first three months I was here, we worked on nothing but defense," Redmon said. "It will be the deciding factor on whether or not we win our games."
The Lady Eagles dropped another tough one, but not for lack of effort.
"I think we played harder than we have all year," Eagle coach Tricia Gutierrez said. "We have to make our free throws. If we would have shot 50%, it would have been a different game."
It is a game of little things that create big opportunities and both coaches are looking forward to the next opportunity to face each other.
Eagle forward, Nadia Taylor fights hard for one of her team-leading nine points. Photo by Ken Cobbley
When the Wildcats took on Atascocita in a home game on Jan. 8, it was everything that was to be expected in a very intense district rival game. A packed house, intense play, players that are familiar with each other and a heated battle on the court lived up to the hype. The game had both teams fighting tooth and nail as Humble remained unbeaten in district with a 54 -50 win.
The Wildcats built a quick 4-0 lead after the tip-off, but the Eagles answered and took a 7-6 advantage with just under three minutes left in the first. Humble regained the lead before the period ended, after two fast break layups by Andre Williams and Chace Leassear in the last 24 seconds.
Early in the second quarter the Wildcats began to sputter a little, but a Dwayne Rogers' jumper at the 6:48 mark seemed to settle things down for the team. Darius Tubbs blocked shots, rebounded and scored at will helping the Wildcats to a 22-14 lead with just over four minutes left in the quarter.
Atascocita matched Humble score for score in the remainder of the first half. When the smoke cleared and the teams went to the locker room at halftime, Humble had a 24-18 lead.
Humble came out in the third on a mission and ballooned their lead to nine points in the first five minutes of the quarter. Scores by Vincent Cavalier, Tubbs and Andre Williams padded their lead.
The Eagles would not go away, scoring four unanswered points and cutting into the lead before things got out of hand.
After two minutes of steals, blocks and players diving on the floor for every loose ball, both teams lost the services of their point guards. Atascocita's Mick Hoffman and Humble's Dwayne Rogers got into an altercation that caused both to be ejected with 1:07 left in the third and Humble up 36-34.
It was so frenzied when the incident happened, the officiating crew actually had to go back and look at team video to determine if any of the players on both benches came onto the court during the incident.
Scores by Williams and Cavalier began the fourth period and Humble forced the Eagles to call a time-out with 6:06 left, when they took a 43-37 advantage. An assist and a score in the paint by Wildcat center Terry Hines sparked a 6-0 Humble run in just 24 seconds built the lead to ten and forced another Eagle time out just over three minutes later.
As they had done all night the Eagles climbed back into the game on a run of their own, scoring eight straight unanswered points to get within one of the Humble lead at 51-50 with just under two minutes left. Hines and Cavalier again came up big for Humble, hitting critical free throws in the waning seconds of the game sealing the win. Williams led all scorers with 18 points and Cavalier added 15.
The Wildcats continued their run with a convincing 67-49 victory over Kingwood, cementing their status as the team to beat in District 21-5A.
Humble's Andre Williams (#25) makes a strong move to the basket among a swarm of Eagle defenders in Humble's 54-50 win. Williams had a game high 18 points. Photo by Terry N. Teros
For the third year in a row, the Kingwood Mustang varsity swimming and diving team won the Gulf TISCA Invitational. The meet was sponsored by the Texas Interscholastic Swimming Association (TISCA) and attended by 57 high schools from greater Houston and surrounding areas.
Not only did the Mustangs bring home the team championship, they were the meet's top boys and girls teams and won both the male and female high point trophies. The Kingwood girls earned 100 points more than their nearest competitor: Langham Creek. The boys prevailed with a more than a 40 point lead over division rival Cinco Ranch.
The male high point winner was Kingwood sophomore Matt Barber with two record-breaking individual performances. Barber won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:39.83 - setting both meet and school records. He also won the 500-yard freestyle clocking a meet record of 4:30.21. In the process, he broke his school's longest-standing boys swimming record of 23 years. Another Kingwood sophomore, diver Loren Figueroa was the female high point winner. She won the one-meter diving event and took third in the three-meter event.
The Kingwood girls set the tone of the meet by winning the first event of the TISCA finals in record time. The 200-yard medley relay "A" team of Michelle Gean, Merritt Krawczyk, Chelsie Kidd and Dannye Osburn clocked 1:49.56 to set the meet record. The pattern continued in the boys medley relay with the Mustangs racking up points with two teams in finals.
In the 50 and 100-yard girls freestyle races, Osburn took 5th and 11th place, respectively. Gean placed sixth in the 100 free and later in the evening topped that with a fourth place finish in the 100-yard backstroke. Kidd broke a minute in the 100-yard butterfly to take third as well as a 12th place in the 50 free. In the finals of the girls 100-yard breaststroke, Krawczyk and Vance had a close race posting season's best times to place second and third respectively.
Kingwood racked up the points in the remaining relays. In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the girls took fifth on the efforts of Osburn, Wehrman, Kidd and Summers followed by the team of Berude, Walton, Meara and Vance in 11th place. The boys also had two teams in the 200 free relay: Sorge, Wilson, Barber and Cox won the race followed by Kneisley, Tony Frey, Sam Deaton and Woodward in 12th place.
In the 400-yard freestyle relay, the girls got 8th place with the team of Summers, Meara, Swank and Gean. The Kingwood boys saved one of their best races for last. Barber, Cox, Glander and Wilson won the 400-yard free relay.
Mustang Swimming and Diving Coach Russell Duin couldn't have been prouder of his Mustangs: "This meet, and all the accomplishments, were a celebration of the hard work that the team has put in since September. It was fun to seeing the support that the kids generated for each other. This is what interscholastic sport is all about; the results were a total team effort."
The first swim meet of 2008 will be the Duel in the Pool at Katy High School on Jan. 5.
PHOTO: The Kingwood varsity swim and dive teams celebrate on the winners' stand at the 2007 Gulf TISCA Invitational. Photo by John Maera
Confidence and a packed house filled the gym at Kingwood High School on Friday night. The Mustangs came into the game with a perfect 2-0 record in district play this year. Just after Christmas, the boys took the top spot in the Texas Division of the Houston vs. the Nation tournament. None of their momentum was lost against the Bruins from Beaumont Westbrook.
"The tournament was a turning point for us, especially on defense," claimed junior forward Nick James.
Despite their best efforts; the Bruins could not catch up to the Mustangs all night. Kingwood lost the tip and fell down 5-0 in the first minute of play. This was the only point in the action when the Mustangs were not up in the score.
Behind the impeccable shooting of Nick James and aggressive rebounding by juniors Adam Brown and Jordan McGowen, the boys took the lead and did not give it back.
Turnovers and ill-advised fouls took their toll in the first quarter, but the Mustangs held on to a 16-14 lead going into the second.
By the second quarter the Mustangs found their groove. The defense kept the Bruins from scoring for the first three minutes and the shots kept falling. James hit a 3-pointer to put the Mustangs up 24-17 before halftime.
"I feel I had a very strong night. I'm glad I was able to help the team win," said James. He was not the only one who had a hot hand on the night. McGowen matched James' game-high 11 points and Brown threw down nine. Sophomore guard Hunter Martin and freshman guard Tevin Svihovec each added seven points.
The Mustangs appeared to be on cruise control in the second half. The rebounds came their way and the passes found the open shooter with routine regularity. By the end of the third quarter Kingwood was up 42-29 and the Bruins looked deflated.
Most of the fourth quarter was spent attempting to avoid fouls as the Bruins tried to salvage something from the game. At the end of the intense battle Kingwood came out victorious 57-38 to the delight of family and friends who came out to support them.
"We have a good win streak right now," said James. "I hope we can keep it going."
The Mustangs take the home court again on Jan. 11 when they take on the Humble Wildcats.
For information on Kingwood High basketball, go to www.kingwoodbasketball.com.
Photo caption: Nick James attempts a 3-pointer as he led the way in the Mustangs victory over the Bruins. Photo by Clint Reynolds
Last year, Coach Kevin Johnson and the Kingwood Mustangs boys soccer team made a trip to the regional semifinals in the state playoffs, capping of a dominating year of success on the pitch. That summer, Johnson lost a heavy load of seniors to graduation, leaving many to wonder how it would affect the 2008 team. His 369-55-41 career record at Kingwood speaks to his ability to craft a winner out of any team in his presence. In fact, the Mustangs have never lost more than five games under his regime.
Kingwood, known for working as a factory for talent and success, always seems to turn an obstacle-laden situation into a moment of excellence and triumph. Despite losing a number of key players to graduation, Johnson has 17 seniors returning to this year's team. Midfielder, Blake Shannon: defender, Jeff Bergeron: and forwards, Trent Gay and Charlie Truglio, anchor a team that is hoping to revisit their regional success of years past and claim victory over the rest of the state.
The first roadblock in that path to state will be a district that is has grown stronger each year. The Mustangs will have to battle the likes of two crosstown rivals, both of whom are hungry to make their mark and tarnish Kingwood's dominance seen in last year's 28-2-1 record.
Humble High School claimed a playoff spot last year, and Atascocita just missed out, but returns their entire team after a first-year effort that opened eyes across the district. Channelview and the Baytown schools will again offer tough challenges to the Mustangs in a crowded race for the four playoff slots.
The level of competition is not the only factor in managing a successful campaign. Team chemistry is the most essential component and many of the Kingwood teammates play in soccer leagues during the offseason, honing their skills and raising the bar even higher.
Unlike any of the other sports, soccer plays outside during the coldest months of the year in uniforms that offer little protection from the elements. Those elements present a unique challenge to the players who will battle in rain, cold and fields that may be frozen over with precipitation.
Many factors are in line to work against the Mustangs in 2008, but Johnson's training and the determination of his players have the team ready to face down any foe and repeat the winning tradition that has become synonymous with Kingwood soccer.
Photo caption: Forward Charlie Truglio, returns to punish opposing goalkeepers with his ability to strike at any time.
Every team looks to rebound after a tough loss in their season. After losing in their opening district game to Beaumont West Brook, the Eagles hoped to break into the win column against Port Arthur Memorial Friday night.
Shawn Toran won the tip, but the Eagles immediately turned the ball over, allowing the Titans to score first. Austen Nickell tied the game with his first bucket of the night, but Memorial broke out to a 7-3 lead before Atascocita could get into any rhythm.
Toran began to assert himself with a steal and assist to T. J. Shaw, followed by his own field goal to draw the Eagles within three, 6-9. The two teams went back and forth with neither able to truly pull away before the first period ended, 11-13, in favor of the Titans.
Port Arthur opened the second quarter pressing the Eagles, forcing the Eagles out of their comfort zone and capitalizing, running off six straight points and an 11-19 lead. If the press did not bother the Eagles, the athletic ability of the Titans did as Port Arthur commanded the boards and did not allow any second-chance points.
"We handled their press pretty well (only two turnovers), but we hurt ourselves on the offensive glass," coach John Castles said.
Trailing 23-28 at the half, Atascocita had to come out firing if they were going to dig out of their hole. Nickell opened the half with a 3-pointer, closing the gap to within two points, but the Titans went on a run, outscoring the Eagles nine to three, extending their lead to 29-37.
Toran again asserted himself scoring six of his game-high 14 points in the third. However, a dark villain in the form of free-throws limited any comeback in the third as Port Arthur took a 7-point lead in to the fourth period, 36-43.
"Free-throws really hurt us tonight," Castles said. "We weren't hitting our shots, but they were putting us on the line and we couldn't take advantage of it."
The Eagles attempted 38 free throws in the game, but only sank 22 of them; the most glaring statistic of the night.
Despite being unable to capitalize on their attempts at the line, the Eagles refused to go quietly in the fourth. Everett Pleasant came off the bench to help the Eagles go on a 7-3 run closing the gap to three points. Great ball movement around the key to Jamal Branch for a 3-pointer got the crowd to their feet as Atascocita crept even closer.
Port Arthur immediately turned the ball over and fouled Pleasant on a dunk attempt sending him to the line with the chance to bring his team within one point. Free-throws haunted the team again as he missed both attempts.
Port Arthur began to run time off of the clock and extended their lead to 47-55 with two minutes to play. Six straight points, highlighted by a Branch assist to Toran for an emphatic slam dunk, got the Eagles within two with a minute left to play.
Still down two with less than 30 seconds left to play, Toran drove the lane and missed a running floater, forcing the Eagles to foul and watch as the clock ran out on their comeback.
"We played hard, but can't allow them to create such a big deficit," guard Mick Hoffman said. "We get to play them again and the result will be different next time."
Results are what the Eagles need if they hope to stake a claim to one of the four playoff spots in a district that has no clear favorite.
Photo caption: Shawn Toran attempts a 3-pointer to pull his team within two points in the Eagles, 57-60 loss to Port Arthur. Photo by Ken Cobbley