Concordia Lutheran, TWCA headline VYPE's Private School Top 5
Houston Christian completed the mission last season – winning back-to-back SPC Championships. Anchored by Georgia-signee Sahvir Wheeler, the Mustangs were able to take home another state title. The other state title coming back to Houston was in TAPPS 1A, which was brought home by Baytown Christian.
So, who can bring home the hardware this year? The Woodlands Christian Academy fell short of a TAPPS 4A State Championship by just a few points in overtime; Lutheran South fell in the TAPPS 5A state title game and Concordia Lutheran was in the TAPPS 6A state semifinals.
These teams have the pieces back to contend. Check out who VYPE thinks can bring home the trophies.
No. 1 Concordia Lutheran Crusaders
After winning a TAPPS 6A State Championship in 2018, the Crusaders returned to the Final Four last season to try and complete the repeat. Concordia Lutheran fell short to Antonian College Prep, 70-55, ending their year with a mark of 36-3. The Crusaders do have to replace Montavious Murphy (Kansas State) and Pierce Hellums (Sam Houston State) but bring back key pieces. Concordia Lutheran is led by standout junior RJ Keene. The 6-foot-7 shooter averaged 14 points, seven rebounds, three steals and four assists per game last year. Keene was a TAPPS second-team, all-state selection. Other notable players include newcomers Nash Golaszewski, Kenyon Holcombe and Adam Stewart. Golazewski comes over from The Woodlands Christian Academy, where he earned TAPPS 4A first-team, all-state honors last year as a junior; and Beaux Brashear comes over from The Woodlands. Bill Honeck enters year 12 leading the Crusaders and is just two wins shy of No. 300 at the school. With 21 victories this year, Honeck will hit win No. 600 of his career.
No. 2 The Woodlands Christian Academy Warriors
The Woodlands Christian Academy was so close in 2019 to a repeat. The Warriors fell just short to Arlington Grace Prep, 58-54 in overtime, in the TAPPS 4A State Championship game. TWCA finished 28-11 overall. The Warriors return three starters this season with hopes of getting to the program's fourth-straight Final Four and try to win their second title in the last three seasons. Bakari LaStrap will be the headliner. LaStrap, a TAPPS 4A first-team, all-state selection, averaged 14 points, six rebounds and five assists per game last year. Also back are TAPPS 4A honorable mention, all-state selections Emanuel Jones (8 points, 7 rebounds) and Luke Mansfield (7 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists).Newcomers to the team include Tucker Nooe, Austin Benigni and Chanse Perkins. Tanner Field enters year four leading TWCA boys' basketball and has posted an 83-30 record.
No. 3 Episcopal Knights
For the past five seasons, Episcopal has finished runner-up in the SPC Championship game. The last two years, Houston Christian was the team to hand them the loss. So, is the 2019-2020 season the one where Episcopal gets over the hump and wins its first state title since 2013 and second in program history? The Knights have the players to do it. The
two main headliners to keep an eye on are seniors Jahari Long and DJ Nussbaum. Both were All-SPC selections a year ago. Long is verbally committed to Seton Hall. Other key returners include D'Avian Houston and Gerard Edwards. With this senior class built the way it is, Episcopal is primed for a run at the coveted SPC title.
No. 4 The Village School Vikings
The Vikings head into this season seeking the program's sixth-straight trip to the playoffs. Once there, The Village School hopes to make a run. Last season, the playoff journey ended in the first round, halted by El Paso Cathedral in a 57-50 loss. The Vikings finished the year 13-21 overall. Looking to this season, The Village School brings back four starters, including first-team, all-district selection Trace Boling. Last season, Boling averaged 18 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Other key returners include second-team, all-district selection Tomaye Mojuetan (7.6 points, 6.8 rebounds); honorable mention, all-district pick Jo'Qwan West (6.8 points, 5.6 rebounds) and Earving Wilson (5 points, 2 rebounds). Notable newcomers include Jordan Henderson (Tompkins), Dorian Boyland (Manvel), Tochi Owens (Paetow), Hunter Hillegeist (Cinco Ranch) and Abdullah Hakeem Olajuwon. Yes ... that Olajuwon. The son of the NBA Hall of Famer has joined The Village School and will be a sophomore. Andrew Johnson enters his second year at The Village School.
No. 5 St. Thomas Episcopal Saints
It wasn't long ago that St. Thomas Episcopal played for a state title in three-straight seasons. The Saints have one TAPPS title in the trophy case. The Saints reached the second round of the TAPPS 4A playoffs last year before falling to Waco Vanguard College Prep by just two points. The Saints do return some firepower from a team that went 23-13 overall, extending its playoff streak to 10-straight years. Start with the young-gun Jakoby Flores, who as a sophomore was named TAPPS first-team, all-state. Flores averaged 25 points, 5.8 assists and 3.1 steals per game and was one of just two sophomores to be named to the team. So, who helps him? Melvin Holloway, a 5-foot-7 senior, was named TAPPS second-team, all-state after averaging 16.8 points, 4.2 assists and 4.2 steals per game. The duo of Flores and Holloway could lead this group back to a state title game. Also, don't sleep on 6-foot-8 junior Alex Vatrachski, who averaged nearly a double-double last year, scoring 7.5 points and grabbing 10.5 rebounds per game. Chris Twine enters his 11th year at St. Thomas Episcopal with a 223-113 record.
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