After losing a heartbreaking game one 5-4 to the Lobos of Langham Creek, Kingwood came home with revenge on their minds. Hoping to atone for costly running errors in the first game, the Mustangs found themselves with plenty of chances to run the bases in game two. The Lobos jumped on top early with a two-run first inning highlighted by a first-pitch home run. Kingwood answered emphatically with five runs of their own in the bottom of the first. Tying the score 2-2 with no outs, the Mustangs loaded the bases and cleared two of them on a single by Rocky Prestifilipo. Mike Pierce scored from third on a bunt single off Ryan Grundy’s bat capping the inning at 5-2. Chris Churchwell set the Lobos down easily in the second and Jordan Brewster upped the lead for Kingwood with a solo home run over the left field fence. A coreless third inning seemed to calm down the pace of the game, but Brewster would wake things up again in the fourth with a two run double to the right center gap pushing the Kingwood lead to 8-2. David Tittle followed with a single up the middle scoring Brewster who slid in ahead of the throw at the plate. Langham Creek chipped away at the lead with a homerun off the Mustang scoreboard in the top of the sixth, making the score 9-3. A two out double put pressure on Churchwell, but a pop out to Pierce quieted the threat. Kingwood finished their offensive onslaught with a sacrifice fly RBI in the bottom of the sixth, scoring their tenth run of the game. Churchwell took the mound in the top of the seventh and struck out the first batter. Langham Creek’s hero from last night’s game, Austin Freitas connected on a solo homer closing their gap to 10-4. After the home run coach David Denny brought in Brett Stillwell to hammer in the final two nails in the Lobo’s coffin. Langham Creek loaded the bases with two outs and brought everyone home on a grand slam tightening the score, 10-8. Clint Stover climbed the hill hoping to finish the drama and induced a ground out to third guaranteeing a winner take all game for a chance to advance to the regional finals. “Langham Creek is a good team,” Coach Denny said. “They crawled back in the game yesterday and today, but we did what we needed to to get the job done. Churchwell pitched a great game and our guys hit the ball when it counted most.” One more game like this one and Kingwood will be one step away from the state final four. Photo: Jordan Brewster rounds third on his way to home after belting a home run in the second inning. Photo by Wesley Orton
After a three-game series, the Kingwood Mustangs won the Division 5A Region III quarterfinals against the Dulles Vikings. Kingwood struck first in the best-of-three series with a 6-2 victory. Chris Churchwell, the Mustangs starting pitcher, pitched a complete game allowing only two runs on five hits with eight strikeouts. Kingwood scored early in the game as Mike Pierce’s RBI single scored David Tittle and Brad Evans in the first inning. The Vikings threatened in the second inning when the first two batters reached base on singles but were stranded thanks to clutch pitching by Churchwell. Rocky Prestifillipo started off the second inning for the Mustangs with a lead off double and reached third base after a Churchwell sacrifice bunt. Matt Brown worked a walk and with two runners on, Kingwood’s catcher, Jordan Brewster, blasted a three-run home run over the left-field fence, putting even more distance between the two teams, 5-0 in favor of the Mustangs. With the series tied 1-1, Kingwood finished the series with a 10-2 victory over the Vikings, but not before treating the fans of both teams to an intense game. In the bottom of the fifth inning, after a hit batsman, two walks and a Kingwood pitching change, the Vikings loaded the bases with only one out. Clint Stover, the Mustangs third pitcher of the game, induced a ground ball to second allowing a clutch 6-4-3 double play which proved to be a turning point for the Mustangs. After a sharp-hit single in the sixth by Brewster, Tittle smashed a two-run home run giving Kingwood a 3-2 lead. The Vikings surrendered seven more runs in the sixth inning, making the score 10-2. Next up for the Mustangs are the Langham Creek Lobos, who knocked out No. 1 ranked Katy over the weekend. Photo: Mike Pierce’s first inning single drove in two runs and set an early tone to the series. Photo by Wesley Orton
The “Diamonds in the Rough” essay competition challenged youth ballplayers from ages seven to 14 to enter an essay writing competition explaining how a mentor or unsung hero helped them to find their inner strength and achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle. Twelve-year-old Niko Craniotis won the contest earning him a $5,000 grant and qualifying his essay a chance to earn the grand prize of $10,000 and a spot in a baseball clinic hosted by former New York Yankee Tino Martinez. The grand prize winner will be determined through an online vote. “I found the contest details on a select team Web site and I circulated copies among members of my son's team,” said Sheila Craniotis. “I suggested to my son that he could write about his father, who came this country not speaking the language.” She said that Niko had his own idea. He proceeded to write a story about his best friend, neighbor and teammate, Frankie Shiha, nicknamed 'Double-Trouble.' Niko attends Riverwood Middle School and Frankie attends Willow Creek Elementary. The boys have known each other since they were three. The two met at St. Martha's preschool and played coach-pitch, not tee-ball, together. Niko's 300-word essay tells the story of his friend, Franky, whose leg was crushed in a terrible accident. Niko was inspired by his friend's struggle to return to baseball. Today, both boys play for the select team, the Lake Houston Gators. The Gators are comprised of players from the Lake Houston area, including Kingwood, Atascocita and Humble. “I was thrilled to hear that judges from Briggs & Stratton and the Milwaukee Brewers organization had chosen my son's essay,” said Craniotis. She added that her son will be interviewed by ABC news and the interview will be broadcast on various ABC affiliates at a time not yet determined. Niko was one of 12 regional winners and the only child chosen to participate in the interview. “I was surprised that my essay won,” said Niko. “And I'm excited about the interview. I'm not nervous about the interview because I'm not a shy person and I'll have Frankie there with me.” Frankie said that he was proud that his friend had named him as his unsung hero and that he was also surprised because people usually chose an adult at the person they look up to. Niko said that the $5,000 he was awarded will be used to benefit the team. He said that their field needed some work and that the team would use some of the money to sponsor kids who could not afford baseball camps. Online voting ends May 24. Until that time, essays can be read on line and votes can be cast at www.briggsdiamondsintherough.com. Photo: Niko Craniotis (left) wins $5,000 in the “Diamond in the Rough” essay writing contest. His essay tells of his best friend Frankie Silha, who overcame a serious leg injury and serves as an inspiration to all.
My earliest memories of playing a team sport were at the age of 7, playing coach-pitch baseball in Corpus Christi. Our uniforms were T-shirts with iron-on transfers as team names and numbers, a mesh hat and blue jeans. Despite what would be called primitive at best in today’s sport scene, there was still a lot to learn at such a young age. One of the most important lessons to learn was that of teamwork. In a world that flaunts individuality, the idea of working as a team has become a lost art. Community sports encourage teamwork by teaching important communication skills, creative thinking and valuing the talents of other members. All of which are character traits that will carry significant weight as they progress through life. My favorite lesson is perseverance and discipline. I remember playing on a football team as a third-grader, and it was miserable. We lost every game, only scored one touchdown and I wanted to quit three weeks into the season. My mother refused to let me quit, telling me that I committed to it and had to see it through. Those words have helped mold me into the person I am today. Community sports teach our kids that there are times when there is only one winner. There are times when we learn more by surviving through a tough season versus easily coasting through a winning one. They teach us the importance of respecting our opponents and authority figures. They show us there is value in commitment, even when a trophy might not be within our grasp. These traits emphasize a much greater lesson that is all but forgotten in today’s environment marked by instant gratification; the journey is more valuable than the destination. Community sports reinforce the necessary character traits that will carry our young generation through this journey and those that will await them in the future. I want to encourage you to participate in the lives of your children and others by participating in the various sporting avenues throughout our great community.
Rarely a day goes by during the summer when you cannot find a group of young basketball players hooping it up on the blacktop. From sun-up to sundown, aspiring young athletes work up a feverish sweat as they attempt to perfect their skills and abilities. In order to test progress and help in that growth, they have to play the game against aspiring young stars. That is just what Steve Oakes and the Competitive Basketball League (CBL) have in mind. Formerly the Kingwood Competitive Basketball League, Oakes and partner Rusty Odom have opened up the opportunity to all surrounding areas. Oakes is a college ref for Division I basketball and Odom is a former All American from Kingwood High School and went on to play for UCLA at the pro level. The CBL is a nonprofit organization, funded completely by registration fees, that strives to help develop the youth talent of the area. Not to be thought of as a select league, the CBL is open to all players from K-12th grade. “We offer positive leagues for kids of all ages to help them become a more well-rounded player,” Oakes said. In the past, the league has offered winter, spring and fall leagues with the winter league being the most popular, as more than 800 young players sign up for that season. Due to demand and inquiries from graduating high school players and returning college hoopsters, the CBL has decided to create a summer league for the first time. “We had a lot of players who have played in our leagues before and asked if there was a place they could continue playing when they came home for the summer,” Oakes said. The summer league starts in June and continues into July. Each team will play one or two games a week and most games will be played on the weekends, taking a break for the Fourth of July. All games will be played at The GYM in Humble. Oakes and Odom strive to keep the league as fair and balanced as possible. Each team has mandatory substitutions every five minutes, ensuring that everyone gets to play. Tryouts and drafts are held so teams cannot be stacked with talent and succeeding in education is also emphasized. “We have a CBL Al-Academic team for players who get all As and Bs throughout the school year,” Oakes said. “In fact, 84 percent of our players qualified last year.” The CBL also offers programs for those interested in refereeing games. The junior referee program teaches the rules of the games and trains participants in how to maintain control over the game and the environment. “There is always a referee shortage, so this program has helped produce some much needed whistle-blowers,” Oakes said. Oakes and Odom believe that the key to success on the basketball courts comes from starting them out young. Their middle school leagues are by far the largest and the fall and spring seasons are best for those just starting out. All the seasons correspond with school calendars so there are no conflicts for those involved in extracurricular activities. Registration is currently under way for the inaugural summer season. For more information or to register your aspiring athlete, go to www.cbball.com or call 281-812-9052. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Photo: Now players like James Nichols (left) and Sydney Stephens (right) can transfer their game from the blacktop to the hardwood thanks to the new CBL Summer League. Photo by Heather Orton
The “Diamonds in the Rough” essay competition challenged youth ballplayers from ages seven to 14 to enter an essay writing competition explaining how a mentor or unsung hero helped them to find their inner strength and achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle. Twelve-year-old Niko Craniotis won the contest earning him a $5,000 grant and qualifying his essay a chance to earn the grand prize of $10,000 and a spot in a baseball clinic hosted by former New York Yankee Tino Martinez. The grand prize winner will be determined through an online vote. “I found the contest details on a select team Web site and I circulated copies among members of my son's team,” said Sheila Craniotis. “I suggested to my son that he could write about his father, who came this country not speaking the language.” She said that Niko had his own idea. He proceeded to write a story about his best friend, neighbor and teammate, Frankie Shiha, nicknamed 'Double-Trouble.' Niko attends Riverwood Middle School and Frankie attends Willow Creek Elementary. The boys have known each other since they were three. The two met at St. Martha's preschool and played coach-pitch, not tee-ball, together. Niko's 300-word essay tells the story of his friend, Franky, whose leg was crushed in a terrible accident. Niko was inspired by his friend's struggle to return to baseball. Today, both boys play for the select team, the Lake Houston Gators. The Gators are comprised of players from the Lake Houston area, including Kingwood, Atascocita and Humble. “I was thrilled to hear that judges from Briggs & Stratton and the Milwaukee Brewers organization had chosen my son's essay,” said Craniotis. She added that her son will be interviewed by ABC news and the interview will be broadcast on various ABC affiliates at a time not yet determined. Niko was one of 12 regional winners and the only child chosen to participate in the interview. “I was surprised that my essay won,” said Niko. “And I'm excited about the interview. I'm not nervous about the interview because I'm not a shy person and I'll have Frankie there with me.” Frankie said that he was proud that his friend had named him as his unsung hero and that he was also surprised because people usually chose an adult at the person they look up to. Niko said that the $5,000 he was awarded will be used to benefit the team. He said that their field needed some work and that the team would use some of the money to sponsor kids who could not afford baseball camps. Online voting ends May 24. Until that time, essays can be read on line and votes can be cast at www.briggsdiamondsintherough.com. Photo: Niko Craniotis (left) wins $5,000 in the “Diamond in the Rough” essay writing contest. His essay tells of his best friend Frankie Silha, who overcame a serious leg injury and serves as an inspiration to all.

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