Houston's private school ranks are deep in talent, making the back half of VYPE's Top 10 as lethal as the top half.
Houston Christian has won back-to-back SPC titles, while the Class 1A Baytown Christian Academy Bulldogs champs are loaded again for another run.
Here are Houston's 6-10 top private schools.
6. Houston Christian Mustangs
Here come the defending champs! Houston Christian enters this season as the reigning back-to-back SPC Champions. Going 30-8 last year, the Mustangs capped off another title season with a 69-64 victory over Episcopal. To win a third-straight crown, Houston Christian will have to replace some big pieces, including Georgia- signee Sahvir Wheeler. The junior class will be one to watch. Noah Kon, who was an All-SPC selection last year, returns after averaging 18 points and five assists per game. Kobe Haynes, an All South Zone SPC selection, is also back after averaging nine points per night. Other players to watch include Elijah Bernstein, Donald Rawls (who was injured last year), Austin Smith and Malachi Bingham. According to coach Ron Crandall, success will be based on "how quickly we can build chemistry and trust". Crandall enters his 13th season at Houston Christian and is 11 wins away from No. 300 at the school. With 25 wins this season, Crandall will hit victory No. 400 for his career.
No. 7 Kinkaid Falcons
When it comes to SPC basketball, all the talk the past few years has been around Houston Christian and Episcopal. Rightfully so, considering those two programs have either won or been runner-ups for state titles the past few years. Kinkaid finished sixth in the SPC tournament last year, falling to Greenhill School, 61-51. Looking to this season, Kinkaid will have to replace All-SPC selection Josh Levy, who averaged 12.3 points per game in 2019. The Falcons do return some firepower, including All-SPC selection Jordan Williams, who earned that nod as a freshman. Williams averaged 10.9 points, four rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, and has seen a considerable uptick in his basketball recruiting this summer, which made him commit more to basketball than football. By the way, Williams is good at both. Another player to keep an eye includes Lucas Wilkins, who averaged 9.7 points per game. The Falcons will have to get others to step up outside Williams and Wilkins but that's not a bad start.
No. 8 St. Thomas Eagles
St. Thomas was two wins away from playing for a TAPPS 6A State Championship last season. The Eagles fell short to Antonian, 82-75, which went on to win the title. St. Thomas finished the year 25-8 overall and 9-1 in district. Heading into this year, St. Thomas returns three starters, led by Maddox Kopp, who stands at 6-foot-5. Kopp, a TAPPS All-State Honorable Mention selection, finished last year averaging 10.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Other key returners for St. Thomas include Cael Boeckman (8.2 points per game) and Dillon Lowe (6.1 points per game). Gary Hall enters his second season leading the Eagles, but he isn't just getting onto the scene in coaching. Hall enters year 26 of his career with a 442-208 record. Keys to success for St. Thomas heading into this year include blending newcomers with the returners, navigating one of the "toughest schedules in the state", defensive rebounding and perimeter shooting, Hall said.
No. 9 Baytown Christian Academy Bulldogs
The defending TAPPS 1A State Champions are back. Baytown Christian Academy went the distance capping off the championship season with a 63-29 victory over Dallas Tyler Street Christian. The Bulldogs finished 29-3 overall and have some mega-firepower coming back for the 2019-2020 campaign. The group is led by Jaron Jefferson, who averaged a team-leading
17.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He will be a force this season. Pair that output with Jakob Wheatfall, who averaged 17.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game – that is a dynamic duo. Wheatfall was a TAPPS first-team, all-state selection. If that pair can average nearly 20 points per game this year, definitely expect Baytown Christian Academy to be fighting for another title. Also keep an eye on incoming senior Kyron Pitre Jr., who was the team's fifth- best scorer averaging 7.2 points per night to go with 3.7 assists per game.
10 Fort Bend Christian Academy Eagles
While Chuks Uzoka, Timi Ibdapo-Obie and Connor Brotheron have graduated, the show must go on at Fort Bend Christian Academy. Third-year Coach Kalvin Lewis (45-22) led his crew to a 31-5 overall record and an unblemished district mark en route to the TAPPS Final Four. The Eagles were halted by Lutheran South. It was a senior-heavy team, but Lewis has reloaded. In the backcourt are returners Solomon Cole and Owen LaRocca. Jared Bohny will spell Cole at the point guard spot, while Paul Sanchez will complement LaRocca from the three-point line. Eric McCurdy will play a big role in the paint, while Rodney Lipscomb will also provide outside shooting. Lewis will lean on speed, defense and perimeter shooting to carry the nest early, while some lengthy move-ins get their legs under them.
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The Knights are once again the champions of the SPC 4A division.
Since 2014 Episcopal has been relentless to take back the title. For the third consecutive year, the Knights would be facing off against rivalry school, Kinkaid, whom they had lost to within the previous past two years.
This time around the Knights wanted to switch it up with a different ending to a season.
The first half of the game consisted of both teams fighting for a lead. Episcopal received the opening kickoff, enabling them to set the tone for the night. By the middle of the first quarter on a third down, Nick Mayberry was able to find Cailen Graham open wide in the endzone to score first. This would assist the Knights offense to have a lead over the Falcons.
This lead wouldn't remain for too long as the Falcons responded quick with a 95-yard kick return from Cameron Henry, tying the game up 7-7.
The Falcons took matters into their own hands advancing the lead with a flee flicker pass of 35 yards by Victor Garza. Just as the Falcons thought they would maintain the lead, the Knights responded fast. On another third down, Quon Marion gets a handoff and had a run of 72 yards to tie the game up back to 14-14 ending the first half of this nerve wrecking game.
Steve Leisz wanted to wear out the Falcons and turn things into a different gear second half.
Starting the third quarter off like the first, Episcopal's offense pressed a 30-yard touchdown by Adrian Cormier, making it 21-14. Kinkaid came back with a short touchdown; once again evening up the score, 21-21.
With two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Quon Marion successfully drove into the endzone from the 1-yard line obtaining the lead once again. Just when things would be over in the third quarter, Cormier takes a pitch from Mayberry and took it 25 yards into the endzone extending the Knights lead 35-21 only leaving 15.8 seconds.
By the fourth quarter, Quon Marion made another play as he dove into the endzone to silence the Falcons with a 42-21 final. This would leave Marion with a total of 270 yards and Cormier of 199 yards and the Knights offense breaking through the second half. Also, the defense holding strong only allowing one touchdown to slip by.
At Butler Stadium, the Kinkaid Falcons fell short of the three-peat, crowning new champions the Episcopal Knights.