IN FOCUS (Photo Gallery): Pasadena Memorial runs past South Houston
By Andy Tolbert
THE KLEIN OAK BOYS AND GIRLS SOCCER PROGRAMS COULD BE ON THE CUSP OF PLAYOFF CONTENTION AFTER PUTTING UP COMPETITIVE EFFORTS IN 2021. LET’S START WITH THE LADIES. THE PANTHERS WERE ONE WIN AWAY FROM GETTING INTO THE POSTSEASON AS CAIN AND KLEIN HIGH JUST NUDGED THEM OUT.
Why the optimism? The reason is the return of first-teamers Alaina Nugier and Abby Davis to the huddle. They can defend with the best in the district. Halle Hebert is also a solid defender. Annika Murdoch is going to need to quarterback the squad and get the ball in the net. She was an honorable-mention selection.
While girls are defensive, the boys are offensive. Oak was a game-and-a-half from making the postseason and returns first-team midfielder Francisco Medina and second-teamers Garrett Balmanno and Brian Camacho. Balmanno can score up front and Camacho holds it down in goal. Also, watch out for Fabrizio Fereira in the midfield. With a little more push, both Oak squads could find themselves in the playoffs in 2022.
HOUSTON - It was about 20 minutes after a tweet had been sent out on the Kingwood Park girls basketball account congratulating Biva Byrd on a pair of recent career accomplishments when the junior's phone dinged.
It was a text from the all-time leader in Lady Panthers' history in points and rebounds congratulating her on the milestones - who, is also older sister and University of North Texas soccer standout Allie Byrd.
"She was very proud," Biva said about Allie's text. "She said 'I knew you would get to this point'. She's very supportive. I wasn't surprised, she's always telling me about my rights and wrongs in the game. She wants me to do good."
When Biva first arrived on campus at Kingwood Park, the natural comparisons to older sister were going to come with the territory. But as she plays in her junior season, averaging 15.9 points and 12.5 rebounds per game entering the Lady Panthers' ninth district bout of the season tonight, younger sister is now blazing her own path.
"My sister, she was amazing, but it feels good to have my own career and me being successful," Biva, who was a first-team, all-district pick a year ago, said.
A big step in that process came recently in wins over Dayton and Porter, where Biva surpassed the 1,000-career point and 1,000-career rebound marks for her career, putting her in the record books.
"It felt good," Biva said. "It felt like I accomplished a lot for this program."
Kingwood Park coach LeighAnn Wolfe added: "I'm super proud of her. She's put in a lot of hard work. She's humble about it and I'm glad this is happening for her this year. I know she's going to continue to work just as much to try and catch up with Allie."
| @KParkGBBall Junior @Bivabyrd11 recently passed 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds career marks. Averaging 15.9 ppg 12.5 rpg this season for Lady Panthers. @HumbleISD @HumbleISD_KPHS @HumbleISD_Ath pic.twitter.com/CINBS8s6PL
— Joshua Koch_VYPE (@jokoch09) January 20, 2022
After going 26-1 a year ago, falling to College Station in the third round, Wolfe said that final loss of her sophomore season stuck with Biva and has seen her grow from that.
"She came back, and you could see the determination in her eyes," Wolfe said. "She's matured, she's now a junior. She's been putting in the work and you can tell out on the court. I know each night she's going to bring it. She's super competitive and she hates to lose."
Outside of her growth in her game on the court, where Biva was one of the scoring leaders of the team last season, she has also grown in being a vocal leader - a job that was held by 2021 graduate Aliyah Bustamante, the Lady Panthers' point guard.
"Definitely my confidence has boosted," Biva said about this year compared to last. "I knew that this season I needed to be more of a leader by example for this team so we can win district and go farther [in the playoffs].
"Last year, Aliyah was more of the vocal leader, I barely talked. But this year I needed to be more spoken up."
IT WAS A MAGICAL SEASON FOR THE KLEIN FOREST EAGLE FÚTBOL SQUAD AS COACH ROGER RAMIREZ LED HIS TEAM TO SCHOOL HISTORY, REACHING THE REGIONAL SEMIS. THE EAGLES FELL TO ROCKWALL HEATH BUT THE DYE HAS BEEN CAST FOR THE PROGRAM AFTER HOISTING THE COVETED DISTRICT 15-6A TITLE.
Klein Forest says goodbye to Nathan Lopez, the District MVP, to graduation, but returns Defensive MVP Rodrigo Rosales to the pitch.
Erik Segovia earned a first-team nod a year ago and will be assisted by a trio of second-teams in goalkeeper Kevin Avila, midfielder Manuel De Paz Andrade and forward Cristian Canas. Javeth Figueroa should also play a bigger factor this season.
While the boys team showed its dominance, the girls team is in a rebuilding status.
Forest struggled in 2021, but has hopes of being more competitive this season with the return of Alexa Zamarripa, Marlet De La Cruz, Alejandra Romo, Jennifer Coreas, Paloma Espinoza and Ahtziris Gutierrez.
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