Your password needs to be at least 8 characters and one number.
Katy High's Brianna Nelson had nine points and a team-best 11 rebounds in a big win over Cinco Ranch on Friday, January 28, at Cinco Ranch High.
KATY—The ethos of this year’s Katy High girls basketball team is not unlike its gridiron counterpart. Smart, selfless offensive execution. Irrepressible defensive intensity. Team.
There are no prominent recruits on this year’s Tigers roster. No showcase, highlight-stealing talents. Yet.
But it hasn’t mattered. Katy has mucked up the standings in what looked to be a top-heavy District 19-6A and consistently found ways to win big games.
The Tigers snapped Cinco Ranch’s five-game winning streak in demonstrative fashion Friday evening, 61-44, finishing a season sweep of the Cougars.
Four pointers from a crucial game in a district in which the top four teams are only separated by three games in the loss column.
>> TEAM, TEAM, TEAM
Against a Cinco Ranch team that boasts two of the more dynamic talents in the city in freshman Aniya Foy and junior Dani Williams, Katy won in a rout because of its all-for-one pedigree.
The Tigers had four players in double-figure scoring, and another with nine. Senior Ashlei Angel led with 14 points. Junior Lyric Barr added 13 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Nyla Wold threw in 11 points off the bench. Sophomore Ashlynn Alexander added 10 points. Junior Brianna Nelson finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Lyric Barr 3-ball. She\u2019s 2-4 from deep for @KTGirlsHoops. #txhshoops @khs_livepic.twitter.com/EwGNm8B3hi — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
The sum of Katy’s parts was more than enough to thwart the Cougars’ dynamic duo. Foy finished with a game-high 16 points, six rebounds and three steals, but seven of her points came in the fourth quarter when the game was decided. Williams added 10 points.
The two combined to shoot just 2-for-9 from 3-point range.
“We knew what we had to do,” Nelson said. “We had to fight really hard, because the last time it was close, and we went into overtime. So, we went into this game knowing they’re not going to be easy, and we had to work hard together.”
Katy’s halfcourt execution was practically flawless. The Tigers moved the ball quickly, looked for the open shooter, and got quality looks, particularly from the perimeter. Smart skip passes and Alexander’s speed and dribble penetration opened up a barrage of open corner 3-point looks.
Ashlei Angel 3. @KTGirlsHoops\u2019 haifcourt offensive execution has been impressive. Tigers up 45-21, late 3Q. #txhshoops @khs_livepic.twitter.com/VEhjGOgdDe — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
Katy made seven of 20 3s for a 35-percent clip.
“We’re sisters out there,” Angel said. “We all know where we’re at, at all times. It’s different. You find very few teams who have the sisterly bond we have. It’s an amazing environment.”
>> FOY LIMITED
Foy, one of the top players in the Greater Houston area for the Class of 2025, entered the game averaging a team-high 15.8 points. Through the first half, as Katy built a 32-15 lead at the break, Foy had just five points as she was mired in foul trouble for most of the first two quarters.
“Just staying in front of her,” Angel said of what was key. “She’s a great player. She really is. But being able to stay with her and get help, and knowing where she is on the court at all times.”
Foy had a strong fourth quarter with seven points, five rebounds and two steals as she tried her best to rally Cinco Ranch. Often, she showed off the quickness, strength, ballhandling, and footwork that make her a dangerous cover.
Man. Very tough shot by @Foy2025. Definitely knows how to get to her spots. #txhshoops @CincoGirlsHoopspic.twitter.com/5CdGqYNRtj — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
But it wasn’t enough. Katy kept Cinco Ranch from running in transition and forced Foy to play against stifling, focused set defenses.
“Always know where she is,” Katy coach Shanna Marhofer said. “If that means our elbow spot doesn’t defend in the high post because they’re extending on her, she’s more important. Take her away. Her and 15 (Williams).”
>> FAST START
In the first round of district play, Katy had to fight its way back into games often due to slow starts. Marhofer said it is an emphasis during this second round of district play that the Tigers start off quarters better.
That was the case against Cinco Ranch. Katy started the game on an 8-0 run and outscored Cinco Ranch in the second quarter, 18-4.
In the third quarter, the Tigers pushed their advantage to more than 20 points early to keep the Cougars on their heels.
“We started very well,” Marhofer said. “We knew the start of each quarter would be super important. How the first three minutes of each quarter are the deciding factor. We came out determined and ready each quarter and ready to fight.”
>> TOUGH DISTRICT
How formidable is 19-6A girls hoops?
Cinco Ranch, currently third in district at 6-3, has wins over state-ranked Seven Lakes and two-time defending district champ Tompkins. Katy, currently fourth at 6-4, has a district season sweep of Cinco Ranch.
Tompkins is in second place at 7-2, with losses to Seven Lakes and Cinco Ranch. Seven Lakes is currently first at 7-1, with its loss to Cinco Ranch.
Katy has five-point losses each to Seven Lakes and Tompkins, and still has to face them again to finish out the second round of district play.
“We’ve had bumps in the road, so winning this game helps us advance and gives us confidence,” Nelson said. “We know we’re a good team when we play together.”
Marhofer said the way the Tigers are winning is especially encouraging.
“We’re playing well,” she said. “We’re playing team ball. We’re fighting and working hard. The same energy you see in practice, you see in the game. Hopefully, in the postseason, that will translate into great things.”
Paetow senior Abou Camara.
KATY—Paetow’s most important addition to an already-loaded team this season came in-house. When it’s all said and done, if the 2021 regional finalist Panthers find themselves in the state tournament in March, the growth, maturity, and perseverance of senior forward Abou Camara might just be exactly what was needed.
The 6-foot-7, 190-pound Camara started his Paetow career on the ‘B’ team as a freshman. Sophomore year, he was cut from the junior varsity. Camara spent his junior year on JV before breaking out in a spectacular way this season, a testament to his work ethic and resilience.
“After I got cut, I was doing squats, calf-raises,” Camara said. “Just trying to get super athletic. I have confidence now that I didn’t have then. I’m way more comfortable on the court. Coaches are drawing up plays for me now.”
Camara showed off everything Tuesday evening in a District 19-5A 70-36 win against Katy Jordan. Camara had a game-high 18 points to go with 11 rebounds and three steals.
“Like any kid that’s that age that got cut as a sophomore, he was disappointed,” coach Mike Niemi said. “On his own, he got some guys to work out with. He was at the courts all the time. He was always in the gym somewhere, shooting and training.”
It helped that Camara grew five inches since that sophomore year and boasts a 37-inch vertical leap. His in-game dunks are becoming stuff of legend, and there’s nothing Camara loves more than crushing an opponent’s spirits with a sky-scraping alley-oop jam.
.@AbouCamara24!! Dunk city off the takeaway. @paetowhoops on a 7-0 run to start 2Q, leads 24-13. #txhshoops @PaetowHS_ABC @PaetowAthletics @KatyISDAthleticpic.twitter.com/geY657uhz0 — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
But it isn’t Camara’s talent or skill that won over coaches. Size, length, and athleticism are aplenty on this Paetow roster.
It was his desire.
“A lot of players can learn from him,” Niemi said. “A lot of players have those setbacks and allow it to define them and take a negative turn. He didn’t do that. He decided to put in work, and he’s benefited from it.”
Camara continues to evolve. Each game is seemingly a huge step forward.
“There’s a higher ceiling I can reach,” he said. “Way higher. It’s been crazy. My development has been crazy.”
Camara started the season primarily playing power forward or center. But he has worked tirelessly to address his primary weakness, the perimeter game. So much so, that he is playing more on the wings.
Against Jordan, Camara showed off impressive ballhandling and shooting skills. Aspects of his game that were nonexistent early on.
.@AbouCamara24 3. @paetowhoops up 14-11 early. #txhshoops @PaetowAthletics @PaetowHS_ABCpic.twitter.com/OMCG15L7CP — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
It is telling that Niemi, a no-nonsense coach who promotes structure and discipline, is comfortable letting Camara shoot 3s and take defenders off the dribble. It wasn’t long ago that if Camara was anywhere outside 10 feet from the basket, he’d be told to get rid of the ball. Quickly.
“He’s a kid that’s always constantly working on something,” Niemi said. “One of those areas is the perimeter game. He comes in and works on it. He works on attacking and shooting jump shots and he’s doing it on his own. So as a coach, I feel comfortable giving him a few freedoms whenever the opportunity comes.”
.@AbouCamara24 is showing a lot more perimeter ability as this season goes on. Impressive development. #txhshoops @paetowhoopspic.twitter.com/rjvojj3KVO — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
As his game continues to develop, Camara knows what got him on the floor in the first place. It was his rebounding, shot-blocking, and defense. His passion.
Indeed, Niemi said the word he associates most with Camara is “activity.”
“I bring energy,” Camara said. “I bring life. That’s my job. I know I have to do my part.”
Paetow is ranked No. 8 in Class 5A in the state and stands 21-5 overall and 9-0 in district play. The Panthers reached 20 wins quicker than they ever have since starting the program three years ago.
Camara is essential as to how and why.
“He’s a late bloomer, but he works,” senior guard Trevor Frank said. “He’s taken a big leap from last year to now. Now he’s a star. He’s athletic. He’s a better shooter. He has a mind for the game. It’s amazing how much someone can grow in a couple of years. It’s amazing to see.”