San Antonio Central Catholic 69 San Antonio Antonian 63

2011 G Cole Martinez stole the show in Central Catholic’s win over arch rival Antonian by scoring 24 points.

I had a chance to pop by St. Mary’s University tonight for the Private School contest between rivals Central Catholic and Antonian. It was great seeing old friend Coach Romy Vela, now at Central after his days at Nikki Row HS and of course San Antonio Jay. Who can forget that 5A State Championship with the miracle half court shot at the buzzer to send Dallas Lincoln and NBA star Chris Bosh into shock. Coach Vela was up to his old tricks again as his squad which barely has a 6 foot front line & was severely overmatched on the boards against Antonian’s 6’7″ plus front line, pulled out the win 69-63. Hats off to Coach as he continues to add to his 500 plus wins. Intermittently employing a box and one strategy against 2011 6’7″ W Jonathan Holmes (below) they made him work hard for his 20 points on the night. Meanwhile on the other end, Central took advantage of the three point line as 2011 SG 6’0″ Cole Martinez shot the lights out in dropping 24 in the win. Martinez has a nice, smooth stroke and understands spacing. He has to be accounted for on the offensive end of the court or you’re going to pay.
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Sweet Redemption: Weslaco Panthers 76 Brownsville Hanna 71

I knew that when I stepped foot into the infamous Domingo Sepulveda Gymnasium, in the heart of Panther Nation, that I would be in for a night of extreme basketball pandemonium. One foot into the gym I felt that familiar anxiousness that anyone involved in such an intense game feels. Fans were crowded at the concession stand, the speakers were blaring, fans were cheering and the ball players were focused in on getting warmed up for the big duel between two powerhouse ball clubs in 32-5A, Weslaco Panthers vs. Brownsville Hanna Eagles.

In the last meeting on Jan. 2, Weslaco suffered a terrible loss 73-40 to the Eagles. The buzz around the RGV was that Weslaco had received a reality check and wouldn’t be able to beat Hanna again in the rematch. Six games later, Hanna was still perfect in district 7-0 and Weslaco had dropped two losses to be 5-2.

Quarter I: It was tipoff and Weslaco was determined to redeem itself after a dissappointing loss in Brownsville. If this wasn’t a sign that this game was huge, officials had to wait until the third attempt at a jumpball to get the game started. Senior, Anthony Garza gave Hanna control to start the game, but no success. Weslaco was quick to regain possession and went on a 5-0 run in the first two minutes of the game. Garrison Lackey, grandson to legendary University of Texas quarterback Bobby Lackey, was first to strike against the Eagles with a shot from downtown to spark the Panther’s offense, but all-star Anthony Garza, football and basketball standout, executed a three-point play and put Hanna on the board. Once again, Mr. Hussle, JT Lopez, Weslaco guard, had a sweet block on Garza that put to rest the rumor that Weslaco could not hold its own against Hanna. But as Hanna has done for countless years, experience came through. Point guard, Mario Castaneda, put in a quick two and forward, Albert Lekach once again showed why he is such a great free throw shooter. As Hanna inched closer, Weslaco found a way to respond. Panther point guard Andrew Rangel showed tremendous leadership as he played will full confidence finding his way to hole. Nicknamed Ginobili, Rangel showed off his ball-handling skills to the entire crowd who ‘wow-ed’ over his ability to drive, block, rebound, pass and assist. After putting up a dog-fight, 1st quarter score would give Panthers the edge at 22-15.

Quarter II: Starting power forward, Raul Garcia, was showing alot of fire power for Weslaco as he started the half with a quick steal and a bucket. With some careless passing, Hanna was beginning to close the gap, as PG Mario Castaneda demonstrated good court vision and was finding his way to the basket. This kid can jumpstop on a dime, shoot a floater, then come right back and steal the ball. Weslaco’s JT Lopez had his turn and converted 3 points for the Panthers in an ‘and 1’ play. With two minutes left in the first half, Hanna trailed by only 5 points (36-31). I cannot fail to mention Weslaco’s Rodrigo Vedruzco who solidly put 14 points up in the first half alone, hitting three 3 ptrs. with ease. Transition basketball played a key role in the matchup showing the quickness and agility from both teams. Weslaco again showing how great they run the lanes and breaking Hanna’s press quickly. Again Weslaco’s Raul Garcia proving why he is such a versatile player by nailing a 3-ptr. and putting Weslaco on top to end the half at 46-37.

JT Lopez, Jr. Guard
Photo courtesy: Joshua Jurado/Weslacosports.net

Quarter III: Intense. Nail-biter. Edge of seat. These words describe the third quarter. Hanna’s Albert Lekach was having a great game with five quick points to start off the half, then two minutes into the quarter, he would be charged with his fourth foul. Another minute later, Weslaco’s Powerhouse Garcia would also hit the pine for a rest with his fourth foul. This didn’t come before he lit it up with two consecutive treys to give Weslaco a 56-43 lead. Panther defensive dynamo JT Lopez was creating turnovers left and right, using his hands to block passing lanes, rebounding and assisting. The Battle of the point guards began with Castaneda and Rangel both weaving into the paint and finishing with flashy layups. Hanna’s top guard, Anthony Garza had been unusually quiet until a pair of free throws sparked his shooting drive and he would be fierce in the fourth. Final: 65-61
Quarter IV: Foul trouble plagued both teams in the fourth. After a miscommunication call on Weslaco, Eagles’ Garza hit four free throws to spark an amazing run for Hanna which brought them within five points of the Panthers with four minutes left in the game. Garza was rebounding, passing, shooting and doing everything possible to get a win for his mighty Eagles. Hanna’s defense finally showed up in the fourth, but by that time it was too late. Bodies were being thrown for every loose ball, shots were flying in the air, arms flailing everywhere for rebounds. These boys were laying everything on the court. Once again, Lopez got to the free throw line and converted 3 of 4 shots. Mr. Hussle was at it again. To seal the deal was Garrison Lackey for Weslaco, hitting key free throws to give his Fierce Panthers the win, 76-71 over Brownsville Hanna.

Anthony Garza, Sr. Forward, Hanna Eagles

Congratulations to Coach Gabe Valdez for an amazing win!

Still Perfect: Edinburg Bobcats 71 Harlingen Cardinals 57

You would’ve thought it was a playoff game, where it’s win or go home. It was a match up between unbeaten teams, Edinburg Bobcats and the Harlingen Cardinals, both 6-0. This was the last game of the first half of district play. With both teams having playoff experience and rosters with All-district players, it was any teams game tonight. The rivalry between these two ball clubs has become a much anticipated meetings over the past several years. Last year Edinburg was undefeated in district31-5A until their last and final game of district play when the Cardinals upset the Bobcats 73-68. Last year Edinburg won its fourth straight district title and is hoping to continue the tradition again this year. The Cardinals, with much enthusiasm, took the floor ready to take that crown away and pull another victory out of their magic hat.

The first half went rather quickly with the basketball going from one side of the court to the other. Both teams showed great defense and shots were flying. Final for the first quarter was 21-17 in favor of the Bobcats. Mack Sanchez started the second quarter with a 3-ptr. and a shot block and used this to spark a small lead for the Cardinals, 24-23. Edinburg returned fire with several key shots quickly overturning the score to lead 32-26 with 3:32 left in the first half. The Cardinal Crush defense was sounding symphonic as all you could hear were the squeaks of sneakers all over the court. This sweet sound didn’t phase the Bobcats as they continued to put up points with a successful ‘and 1’ play and a quick two by #3 Stevan Guerrero. Harlingen’s M. Sanchez fired back with another long range three, making the halftime score 36-33, with Edinburg leading.
Mack Sanchez, Sr. Guard
photo courtesy of rgvsports.com

Harlingen began the 3rd quarter strong with Alejandro Pallares going straight to the hole and converting on two free throws. Pallares was showing his vertical height hitting several 10 foot jumpers while driving and playing strong under the basket. Cardinal point guard, Jonathan Sanchez also showed off a little of his ball handling skills. Right or left, he was taking his defender one-on-one to the bucket. Both teams were playing an excellent transition game, while at the same time being smart to set up and execute plays. Both teams were scoring as key players (Edinburg: Steven Guerrero, Aaron Olvera & Harlingen: Mack Sanchez, Alejandro Pallares) were finding their niche and scoring at will. With various lead changes throughout this quarter, Pallares and M. Sanchez were able to sink two each and put the Cardinals on top with a one point lead, 51-50, going into the final quarter. The Cardinals had all the momentum going into the fourth, but as any coach can tell you, the game can change in a blink of an eye. That is exactly what happened to Harlingen. With a great backdoor look, a steal, and a quick layup to start the quarter, Edinburg had began what would end up being a 12-0 run to spark the Bobcats to an eventual win. With 5:18 left in the game, Jr. guard, Aaron Olvera, who many feel is one of the best basketball players in the valley, began showing why his leadership and skill is what will lead the Bobcats to a postseason. The Cardinal offense got cold and wasn’t able to convert. Edinburg outscored Harlingen 21-6 in the fourth quarter alone which sealed the deal for the Bobcats. Unfortunately Harlingen, after a hard-fought battle, let the reigns go in the fourth quarter to give the Bobcats a 71-57 win.

Aaron Olvera, Jr. Guard, Edinburg Bobcats
Photo Courtesy: 956sports.com

Harlingen and Edinburg will rematch again Feb. 16 in Cardinal Country. Good Luck to both teams as they represent a fierce 31-5A district.

San Antonio Madison’s Landry Boys

I received a call Monday from John Landry, Pops to Coppin State True Frosh Jonathan Landry, and 2013 Frosh phenom Trayvon Landry of San Antonio Madison HS. It’s been a tough couple of months for the Landry’s two talented boys.

Jonathan, (above..sporting his Coppin State gear) a 6’5″ W started out averaging close to 20 minutes per game for Coppin State in the MEAC, with his high point total coming against Big XII opponent Colorado with 11 points in only his 3rd game of the season.
A promising freshman campaign has been cut short following season ending shoulder surgery. It’s being handled by the Baltimore Ravens medical staff, so you have to figure he’s in the best of hands. On a positive note, the NCAA has granted Landry a medical redshirt season. Amen to that.
The second dose of bad news for the family was a misdiagnois of San Antonio Madison freshman Trayvon Landry (below). For the last month he’s been alternating between taking it easy, and then trying to push through with what was originally thought to be a groin strain. Well, it’s a lot more serious than that. My memory’s fading, but I seem to recall Papa Landry describing it as a hairline crack in the pelvis area….OUCH.

Let’s hope that the next month is kinder to the two alumni of the Texas D-1 Ambassadors and that they both achieve a full recovery. Two of San Antonio’s finest.

Texas D-1 Ambassadors Tryouts Boys 6, 7, 8th and FRESHMEN

Where do your dreams begin? More importantly, where do they end? Don’t just be a playground baller. Get an education too! The Texas D-1 Ambassadors have a track record which is unparallelled with college alumni. If you desire to play for your school team, improve your skills, play with the best and ultimately to get recruited and fulfill that college dream then do not miss the Texas D-1 Ambassadors tryouts this coming Sunday, January 31st from 5-7 PM at Akins High School.

Below: Chip Ivany, the original Texas D-1 Ambassador. Told by his “expert” father (me) as a 5’2″ high school freshman to give up the sport and to play baseball. He disregarded, because he had a dream. 1500 high school points later, an NCAA Tournament ring from South Alabama, a good possibility of going back to the NCAA tourny again this year with UT-San Antonio and with his COLLEGE DEGREE IN PLAIN VIEW. I stand corrected.

Please reply to TexasBasketball@aol.com with name and grade if you plan to attend. Thank you…..Coach Max

San Antonio Antonian 75 Austin St. Michael’s 68

Austin St. Michael’s has an impressive record built outside the private school ranks in tourny play v. the 4A & 5A publics. They’ll face a challenge today from a big Antonian team led by 2011 W 6’7″ Jonathan Holmes, shown below. Holmes is easily a mid major, who with the right exposure could play himself up to the Power Conferences. He has the pedigree as his Pops played football for Nebraska back in the day. 2011 P 6’9″ Darrious Hamilton (below) has transferred from 5A San Antonio Reagan and has also landed at Antonian. He is not in uniform. I did speak to his mom & dad today and they’re excited to be in their new environment. Hamilton will have to sit out until next year as per TAAPS transfer rules.

I’ve been doing this a long time, and although the Bigs get attention, it’s usually the guard play that decides games. The edge goes to St. Michael’s as 2011 G 6’2″ Jake Kocher (shown below with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors) can score with the best of them from deep or in traffic. Kocher is averaging close to 30 ppg. He’ll need a big game today, and if they get it from him look for St. Michael’s to win going away. If not, then they’ll struggle.

I am a big fan of 2013 PG Justin Brickman. The drawback at the moment is that he’s a freshman, but he handles it well and can shoot it too. He’s shown what he can do in the past on loaded D-1 Ambassadors teams while in the 7th grade and at Texas Basketball Inc’s All American Prodigy Camp. (Next Camp will be March 13-15th).

Austin St. Michael’s 16-18–12-22-68
San Antonio Antonian 15-19-23-18-75
At the half, it’s dead even. Neither team is controlling the boards however St. Michael’s is letting Holmes do what he wants and he’s killing them almost by himself. The 3rd quarter has been all Antonian, with Holmes continuing to pile up points, this time mainly from his offensive rebounding. In the course of action he is responsible for fouling out St. Michael’s “beef” in Will McDonough midway though the 3rd. SMA has gone cold from the field with only 4 points in a 6 minute span. Not a good sign for them.
I love “Little Brick”, Frosh Justin Brickman of Antonian who is fearless at going to the rim at about 5’6″. That probably comes from having scrapped and clawed vs his older brothers; Jordan who was at the Naval Academy briefly and middle brother Jason who has signed with Long Island University. He’s gaining confidence before my very eyes. St. Michael’s is hanging from a thin branch as the 4th quarter starts. They’ll need to hit shots AND keep Holmes off the boards. That’s no easy task.
With 3:00 left in the game, the score 67-56 and with the Apaches on a three on one break, they inexplicbly jack up a shot from behind the arc instead of resetting and forcing SMA to foul. That’s the kind of stuff that give teams a glimmer of hope and coaches get grey hair. The lead is now cut to 5 with 2:30 left to play. The last 2:00 were ragtag, with Antonian closing the game out at the free throw line.
Quite simply, Holmes destroyed the smaller St. Michael’s team, both on the boards and from the wing.
Leading Scorers
Antonian
Jonathan Holmes 47
Austin St. Michael’s
Jake Kocher 25
Austin Burch 16

The Thrill In The Ville: Austin Westlake 84 Pflugerville 79

Below with the Texas D-1 Ambassadors )Westlake’s Cody Doolin (San Francisco) continues to show why former Kansas Jayhawk and NBA Guard Rex Walters is ready to give him the keys to the offense next year for the Dons. Doolin dropped 30 points, was near perfect from the FT line and everytime Pflugerville made a run he answered back with tremendous emotion. Doolin knows when to get his team mates involved and he also has a feel for when his team needs HIM to take control. That’s leadership folks. Pflugerville’s 2011 G Deon Mitchell showed why he’s on the radar of many high major programs as he scored 21 (most of them in the 4th quarter) to almost singlehandedly will the Panthers back to the verge of victory.

With no less than 5 Division One players on the floor, this is the matchup that all of Austin has been waiting for. Pflugerville signee W Demetris Smith (Lamar University) has a high revving motor to go with deep range, while Westlake brings the beef with 6’9″ P Gus Leeper (Arkansas-Little Rock) a shot blocker supreme, and PG Cody Doolin (San Francisco) who in my opinion is a lock to be the Cen Tex Player of the Year. In addition, 2011 G Deon Mitchell is a high major recruit and Westlake W 2010 Conner Kemper is also a likely D-1 signee in the spring period.

At the half Westlake leads 35-23. The difference is mainly due to the fact that Pflugerville is willing to play one on one and take questionable shots while Westlake is being more patient. Doolin leads Westlake with 14 points in the half, while Smith and Mitchell have 5 a piece for the Panthers.

After a high scoring 3rd quarter where both teams scored at will, Pflugerville finally got some early 4th quarter stops to bring the score to within 2 at 60-58. Hard boarding Senior P Joseph Omozee has fouled out for The Ville with 5:35 left to play. They must get a big pick me up from the rest of the team As W Cleveland Smith is also riding the pine with 4 fouls.

The 4th quarter was a wild and woolly one as Deon Mitchell showed why high majors like Marquette and Arizona are drooling over him as he sliced and diced his way and willed the Panthers back into the game. It was to no avail though as the closest they could come was one point. Westlake used clutch free throw shooting to close the game out.

Cody Doolin led the Chaps with 30 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Carl Meyerton chipped in with 15 points and 5 boards, while Conner Kemper had 13 in the win. For Pflugerville, Mitchell finished with 21 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds. Cleveland Smith had 19 before he fouled out with a minute left to play.

Pflugerville went 12-14 from the FT line while Westlake went an incredible 26/31 for the contest, including 24 of 28 down the stretch.

After all was said and done, the biggest factor in the game may have been my being in attendance. Call me the streak killer! I was in Memphis Thursday watching UTEP end the Tigers 64 game conference win streak and tonight I was courtside and did Pflugerville in on their seven year (57 game) string of district games at home without a loss. LOL I guess I’m persona non grata.

Pflugerville-Westlake Young Guns

With most of my time spent running around the State of Texas and beyond, getting the pulse of the Division One prospects playing at the varsity level, it’s a rare time when I’m able to take in a Junior Varsity game. Tonight’s undercard to the varsity game features Austin’s future at the point guard spot. Westlake’s Will Morse and Pflugerville’s T.J. Williams two kids who personify leadership.

2013 G Will Morse (below) leads his JV Westlake Chaps team. 2013 PG T.J. Williams (Below) of Pflugerville leads his JV Panthers. Tonight is the first of at least 8 high school meetings between the two as they occupy the same district. If not for both Pflugerville and Westlake being State ranked these boys would both be on the varsity in most any other school in the city. They’ve been team mates in the past on summer teams and they’ll likely be in the sam back court for the Texas D-1 Ambassadors in the future.
Regardless of who wins the stat battle tonight, likely neither one of these boys will care as they measure their success by the “W” in the win column for the team. Not too often do kids this young have the package of the ability to shoot coupled with the mental part of the game and emotional maturity which allows them to make their team mates better.
They know how to enter the ball into the post, recognize the traps before they come, understand how to space the floor, see passing angles other guys don’t, shoot it well, penetrate and dish & can use both hands. In short, they are floor generals. In addition to all the above, these kids are products of good families, are good students and have a tireless work ethic. They are two of the best prospects in the Centex/South Texas area in the Class of 2013
Pflugerville JV 63 Westlake JV 56

Harlingen Cardinals Continue Success

The Harlingen Cardinal Football team finished a perfect 10-0 season in district play and now the basketball team is halfway there to accomplish the same feat. With several football players now suited up to take the hardwood, the Cardinals are 6-0 in district with their biggest game Align Leftfast approaching this Friday, the 22nd versus the Edinburg Bobcats who boast Aaron Olvera, junior, who can be destructive.

photo courtesy rgvsports.com

Dual-sports athlete, Mack Sanchez Jr., who recently graced the cover of the Rgvsports.com Magazine, currently leads the Red Bird swarm. As successful as he was as quarterback, his skills extend equally on the court. Playing shooting guard, Sanchez recently dropped a season high-30 points against cross-town rival, Harlingen South Hawks. Sanchez is really started to come into his role as one of the senior leaders on the team. Sanchez is finishing with double digits in every game and his 3-pt. average is increasing weekly. He had four shots from downtown against the Hawks and played amazing defense creating numerous turnovers. Sanchez is stepping up and creating hussle plays.

Seniors: Jonathan Sanchez #22 Point Guard & Ben Jara #30 Center

Adding to the Cardinals success are seniors, Jonathan Sanchez PG, and Ben Jara C, who have been a part of the Texas Ambassadors RGV Team. Sanchez has done an extremely excellent job handling the ball and being an excellent leader. I’ve seen Sanchez grow up from elementary to middle school to high school and I can truly say this young man embodies the example that hard work pays off. Sanchez is a true lefty and can easily take his opponent to the hole. Once he begins his drive, it is very hard to stop him. Added to that deadly left side is his range as he can sink his share of 3-pointers. Sanchez has matured greatly in his skill level and is sure to deliver when his team needs him. Jara, is another player that I have been able to see develop throughout the years. Balancing his 6’2″ frame has been Jara’s objective the past several seasons. I’ve seen him play some hard nose defense and sink some great shots down low. Jara is a great team player and is always willing to give it all for his team.

Additional key senior players for the Cardinals are Jesse Pedraza G and Alejandro Pallares F. (shown respectively in picture to left) Pedraza and Pallares both had breakout games Tuesday 19th vs. Edinburg North HS as they helped lead their squad to a 61-53 win. Pedraza made some amazing hussle plays that allowed the Cardinals to create some big plays. Jesse’s fierce defense had him running all over the top of the key as the Cards run a dangerous trap defense. In the 3rd qtr, he had a great put back. Alongside Pedraza is Alejandro Pallares who had an amazing game mainly at the charity stripe. 8 of his 14 points came from free throws as he was 8-11 from the line. Pallares was reaking havoc under the basket as he continued to push his way to the hole. His strength continues to improve and his footwork is looking more defined. Pallares continually pounded the paint getting layups, baseline drives and defensive rebounds.

The Cardinals are starting to gel as a team with numerous plays involving Mack Sanchez, Jonathan Sanchez and Alejandro Pallares. These guys turn a basic three-man weave drill into a brilliant play that ends with a quick and ferocious layup to the bucket and fans cheering so loud, you would think the roof would cave in.

The Cardinals will need all the big plays they can get as they face the Edinburg Bobcats this Friday in Game 7 of district play as both ball clubs are 6-0. Edinburg will host the Cardinals in a game that could decide the district champion. Edinburg has experience playing in big games and returns six seniors from last year. The Cardinals also have their share of big game experience and have a seasoned team of veterans leading the squad. Friday will be big as both teams look good.

Congratulations to Coach Greg Yates and all of the Harlingen Cardinals for a great start to the 2010 Season. Good Luck!

Bartlett (TN) 53 Memphis Raleigh Egypt (TN) 47

I’m on the 2nd leg of my trip, having left Jackson, MS and last night I attended a game across the State lines into Memphis, TN between last years State Finalist, Raleigh Egypt and Bartlett. It was great to see my old friend from Five Star Camp days, Coach Brian Brooks who moved from Moss Point, MS to Memphis two years ago. That’s the reason why I came to Memphis, to see his kids and give them some publicity. It was worth the trip.

It was not a particularly well played game as neither team had above average ball handlers so turnovers and missed free throws were in abundance. Having said that, it amazes me the depth of talent in the River City. As far as stat lines I was impressed with the following kids:
Below: 2010 unsigned senior, Alan Morris a 6’7″ shot blocker supreme. Heading into the game he had recorded 170 blocks in 18 games! Wow. Last night he had 8 rebounds, 8 blocks and altered a half dozen more. A likely JuCo guy, he is the best shot blocker I’ve seen at his size. He also displayed a nice baby hook and a great motor. 2010 unsigned P Ronald “Tank” Brown is an academic qualifier. Although at times he didn’t seem to be going full speed and to be totally focused mentally Brown does show a nice package. He’s a wide body, can handle it a little and has a nice shot out to 12-15 feet. He finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds. He was plagued with foul trouble throughout.

2012 WG 6’2″ Diere McElroy looks to be the real deal. He’s undersized as a wing, but he’s built well and moves with power and speed when he attacks the rim. He led Egypt with 17 points, despite going only 3-10 from the FT line. A good student, it looks like he’s headed to mid major status, perhaps above as he improves his skill set and grows a little more.

A nice hidden gem playing in the suburbs of Memphis was Bartlett’s 2012 G 6’2″ Anthlon Bell. Needs to improve his ball handling to be a true combo, but he showed a smooth stroke and a nice first step. As per his high school coach, he’s a high acadmic kid.