Atascocita state notebook: Jumawan shines; preparation differs; Duncanville looms
Atascocita is in San Antonio for the boys basketball state tournament for the second consecutive season, and third time since 2016, but the Eagles boast a different dynamic this time around.
Seniors AJ Aungst, Angel Johnson, Kaleb Pouncy, and Connor Miller are undeniable stalwarts of the program, but senior forward Landyn Jumawan, who played at Humble last season after coming over from Hawaii, has been a difference-maker.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder is invaluable off the Eagles’ bench. During last weekend’s Region III-6A tournament, Jumawan averaged 10.5 points and four rebounds per game, shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent on free throws.
“Landyn is huge,” coach David Martinez said. “He can shoot. He’s got a scorer’s mentality, but he’s also got length. He can guard forwards, can guard posts. Can create mismatches. He’s a really good player.”
Jumawan said he can do a little bit of everything, which is why he fit in seamlessly with a veteran Atascocita team from the start.
“I came in and trusted the process,” he said. “I do whatever coach wants me to do, whether it’s grab rebounds or make a shot. Guard anyone.”
Jumawan said he appreciates how the Eagles accepted him right away. Teammates respect his ability to score at all three levels—at the rim, mid-range, and 3-point range. Coaches love his versatility, particularly on the defensive end.
“It’s been a rollercoaster,” Jumawan said. “We worked hard for this. We prepared for this all season. Everything paid off. This is nothing new for this team. They’ve been here before, and now they helped me get a chance to get there.”
PREPARATION IN PLACE
Atascocita went to state last year, but it’s an entirely different circumstance this season, especially from the perspective of preparation.
“Considering last year was the COVID year, I can remember vividly not having much time to prepare,” Martinez said. “We didn’t even have a regional tournament; we had a regional site. We were coming off an emotional (regional final) win over Summer Creek at the buzzer on Saturday, and then Monday you’ve got to prepare because the (state) semifinal game was on a Tuesday. Not a lot of time to prepare for a team that hadn’t been to the state tournament.”
In 2020, COVID-19 canceled the state tournament. In 2021, the pandemic was still accounted for.
Last year, scheduling was condensed and games were spread out. Each playoff game was played at a neutral site—no postseason tournaments were held to limit crowd sizes and the number of teams at one site—until the state championship game, which was played at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The Eagles beat Summer Creek in the regional final and fell to Austin Westlake in the state semifinal all in a matter of four days.
“Media day, game-planning for (Austin) Westlake, practicing for Westlake. All of that had to be done in one day, and the kids were just worn out, mentally and physically,” Martinez recalled. “Mental fatigue took its toll. I, personally, just felt a little rushed.”
Martinez said he’s grateful the timeline is back to normal. Atascocita will have had five days to prepare for its state semifinal against Duncanville at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Alamodome.
“This year, we get to prepare,” Martinez said. “We’ve had time to watch film and study, get a couple days to formulate a game plan. To me, that’s the biggest difference. It at least eases your mind a little bit.”
MIGHTY DUNCANVILLE LOOMS
If Atascocita is to get to the state final for the first time since 2016, it must get past Duncanville.
The Panthers are 33-1, ranked No. 2 in the nation, and looking for a third straight state title. Duncanville, in its ninth state tournament, is riding an 18-game winning streak and boasts a pair of high-profile recruits in 6-foot-8 power forward Ron Holland and 6-7 point guard Anthony Black.
The Panthers’ only loss this season was to previous national No. 1 Richardson by two points.
“Looking at them on film and on paper, they are dominant. From top to bottom,” Martinez said. “They’ve got every accolade you can think of. But I told our guys we’re here for a reason. It’s our second trip here, and my expectations are the same. Go out and compete to our very best, and, at the end of the day, that is all you can ask for.”
Martinez has two keys.
Offensively, the Eagles must continue to shoot the ball well. With little to no interior presence, 3-point shooting is vital, and Atascocita has a plethora of shooters at its disposal. The Eagles knocked down eight of 17 triples (47.1 percent) in their regional final win over Shadow Creek.
Defensively, Atascocita must find some way to scheme for Duncanville’s substantial size, and “figure out how to be the best rebounding team below the rim,” Martinez said.
“It’s a Final Four. It’s a special time if you’re an athlete or a coach,” Martinez said. “But at the end of the day, there’s only one champion, and there’s no doubt we’re going to try to be that champion. Whatever happens, I’m extremely proud of these kids, no matter what way it goes. Their effort, their commitment, and their sacrifice has got us to this point.”