Atascocita, Sam Houston, Hightower on cusp of big season; Rankings 6-10
No. 6 Atascocita Eagles
Atascocita will look to start another impressive streak this season. Last year, the Eagles' streak of district titles came to an end at five. Atascocita finished 25-10, fourth in District 22-6A and fell in the first round of the playoffs. The Eagles look to get back on top of the district and reach the playoffs for the ninth-straight year under David Martinez. The eighth-year coach heads into this year one win away from No. 400 of his career. Atascocita returns three starters led by Kaleb Stewart and Texas State-commit Dylan Dawson. Last season, Stewart averaged 18 points per game, while Dawson poured in 12 points a night to go along with three assists per game. Other key returners for the Eagles include Trey Davenport (9 points, 4 rebounds), Tom Hart (8 points) and Christian Ashby (7 points, 38 percent 3-point shooter). Atascocita has become a power in Houston playing for a state title a few years ago, led then by now-Boston Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards, so expect the Eagles to continue that tradition.
No. 7 Sam Houston Tigers
Coach Ralph Barreras is one of the best in the business. The Sam Houston High School lead man has had his team in the postseason for six-straight seasons, reaching state in 2016. The Tigers blew through District 18-6A last season undefeated again, before reaching the Regional Quarters for the fifth-consecutive year. That's the mark of a power program. All-Region star Chris Green has graduated, leaving a trio of seniors to continue the team's success. Barreras has had some success with twins. Kennard and Lennard Robinson led his team to state and now play for St. Thomas University. The next dynamic duo is Garrick and Jerrick Baines, backcourt-mates who can control the game with scoring and defense. They will be joined by point guard Dylan Williams to help light up the scoreboard. The Pride will continue to be the beacon of light in the Houston ISD with yet another postseason appearance. Sophomore Cameron Amboree has transferred from Foster to also play in the guard- oriented offense.
No. 8 FB Hightower Hurricanes
The Hurricanes were two wins away from punching their ticket to San Antonio, just like the girls' basketball team. Fort Bend Hightower went 28-10 last year, led by fifth-year coach Stephen Woods (101-42 at Hightower; 151-166 overall). Fort Bend Hightower lost to eventual state semifinalist Manor, 85-77, in the regional semifinals. Manor moved on to fall to eventual state champion Mansfield Timberview. The Hurricanes were led by then-freshman Bryce Griggs (21 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists). Griggs, the lone freshman in Texas to be a TABC All- State selection, was assisted by Chris Harris (8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals), Cameron Collins (7 points, 8 rebounds 2 steals) and Kristopher O'Neal (7 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals). The Hurricanes will try and make it to the playoffs a third-consecutive season. Woods believes the keys to success in 2019-2020 include "defense, defense and more defense" on top of "continuing to share the ball on offense and playing together."
No. 9 Mayde Creek Rams
What a turnaround for Mayde Creek last year. After winning just six games the previous year, the Rams finished last season taking one of the two final playoff spots out of District 19-6A. The Rams improved their record by 15 wins, finishing 22-15 overall and 5-7 in district to earn a spot in the playoffs, where they fell short in the first round to Fort Bend Bush. Last year marked only the second time since the 2005-2006 season that the Rams have finished a season with a winning record. Looking to this year, Mayde Creek has some nice pieces returning. Headlining the group is Midwestern State-commit Rommell Williams, a first-team, all-district selection, who averaged 17.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He hit 39-percent of his 3-point attempts and 51 percent of his other shots. Other players to watch include David Chavez (11 points, 7 rebounds), Ka'Von Moore (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Isaiah Battee, who led the team in steals. Anthony Fobb enters his second season leading this program.
No. 10 Cypress Creek Cougars
The Cougars enter this season seeking their fourth-straight playoff berth. What Cypress Creek hopes to change this year is turning the berth into a playoff run after being knocked out in the first round the last three years. Led by Daniel Trocquet, the Cougars went 19-15 overall and 12-4 in District 17-6A last year, which was good for second behind Spring Woods. Returning for the Cougars this season include Texas State- commit Nate Martin. The senior averaged 9.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last year. What was impressive is 4.8 of his rebounds per game came on the defensive end. Martin is fully healthy this season and knows how to utilize his size and strength down in the paint to create a major matchup problem for opposing teams. Another key returners include Damian Richards (13.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists). Also, watch for Edward Trahan, who averaged 8.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. The Cougars have the pieces coming back to find success in the regular season again but can they carry that over to the postseason?