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Coming off an impressive 19-point win over Hightower, Mayde Creek is 6-1 to start the season.
KATY—Five takeaways from Wednesday afternoon's non-district game between Mayde Creek and Hightower, the latter which is ranked No. 20 in VYPE's preseason rankings.
It was the Rams, however, who came away with a demonstrative 87-68 win at home in a contest that consisted of some of Houston's top talents in the Classes of 2022, 2023 and 2025, respectively.
1. Angel Sonnier: the best player on the court
There was plenty of high-caliber talent on the floor, but it was Mayde Creek junior guard Angel Sonnier who stole the show.
The 6-foot lead guard scored a game-high 33 points with five rebounds, five assists, four steals, and 5-of-11 shooting from 3.
"I'm not big on rankings and all that stuff, but Angel Sonnier is one of the best guards in his city," Rams coach Anthony Fobb said. "Now, Angel needs to work on Angel. He's a kid. He's got shortfalls. But when he's playing like he did (Tuesday), the sky's the limit. He's sharing the ball, he's getting his assists, he's getting his points. When he's not worried about recruiting and what the rankings say, he's one of the best in this city. He brings out the best in me, and I just want to bring out the best in him."
Sonnier went up against two players who are considered to have a higher profile in Hightower senior guards Aaron Williams Jr. and Jacory Chatman.
Sonnier outshined both.
"There's no pressure," Sonnier said. "I just play my game. My game speaks for itself."
Sonnier was primarily a spot shooter last season. This season, he said he's more aggressive looking to create for himself and others. He showed off deft ballhandling that created space time and time again.
"Angel doesn't feel he's getting his just due, but when he shows up for games like this, guys will notice," Fobb said. "Let them do the talking."
Check out the sweet moves by @angelongo_ on this dish to Landon Bean for a 3. #txhshoops @MCRamsHoops @MCHSAthleticDeppic.twitter.com/6q6Rv5Fo8Z — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
2. Rams halt Hurricanes' Williams' momentum
Hightower's Williams was averaging 19 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and shooting 47 percent overall and 40 percent from 3 entering the Mayde Creek game.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder had 18 points on Tuesday, 14 in the second half after Mayde Creek built a 42-22 lead, and shot 2-for-9 from 3.
Fobb saw on film that Hightower tended to play like his Rams sometimes: one pass and then shot, with nobody in offensive rebounding position.
"The goal was to get them to take bad shots and get in position to rebound and get out and run," Fobb said. "We made (Williams) play defense on the other side, and being a shooter, his legs and arms wore down."
Chatman led the Hurricanes with 20 points, 13 in the second half.
.@Williams_Aaron3 again. Already has a couple buckets and an assist early this 3Q. #txhshoops @HHS_Boys_Bballpic.twitter.com/L2J5EQtfFT — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
3. Freshmen starring for Rams
Mayde Creek has two of the more promising talents in the Class of 2025 in the Greater Houston area.
Point guard Christian Jones, a 5-foot-9 sharpshooter, scored 20 points with four steals and four assists and shot 6-for-9 on 3s. He scored 12 points in the second quarter when the Rams turned a seven-point lead into 20 by the half.
Jamal Chretien II, a lithe, 6-foot-3 rangy forward, had 13 points and three rebounds. Eleven of his points came in the second half.
Jones, who was previously home-schooled like Chretien, said his seven games on varsity have been eye-opening.
"It's given me better skills, toughness and just becoming a better point guard," Jones said. "It's adjusting to going up against guys bigger and stronger than you."
"He's still got a lot of work to do," Fobb added. "The different reads, the different speeds of the game at certain times. Natural things a freshman struggles with. But scoring-wise, we see that every day in practice. We expect it to go in, and he's not a selfish player. He can get any shot he wants, but he'll pass the ball."
Jones said his on-ball defense has improved considerably. It had to if he expected to see playing time under Fobb. He has also had to raise his shooting pocket to get the shot off faster.
Fobb said it's his rookies' intensity and physicality that impressed him during summer and offseason tournaments and gave him confidence they could succeed on varsity.
"Both of them have private training and we lift weights hard here, and they really embrace the weights," Fobb said. "They're very mature, and they have really good parents. They don't let them get too high; they're on them hard. They can play on this level."
That\u2019s 6-9 from 3 for @MCRamsHoops freshman @C_Dior30. #txhshoops @MCHSAthleticDeppic.twitter.com/PwqEqZ7M5V — Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II)
4. Hurricanes stand out
Hightower's stars of Williams and Chatman did not play up to their elite standards, but others stood out for coach Stephen Woods.
Senior forward Joshua Lacour, who came off the bench in the first half but started the second, was a difference-maker in the paint with six points and nine rebounds. Sophomore 6-foot-2 forward Milton Rice also had a strong game with six points and six rebounds.
5. Fast start, no surprise
Mayde Creek's 6-1 start is not a surprise to anyone in the Rams' locker room.
"This is what I expected, especially when you have these incoming freshmen who can take a lot of pressure off me," Sonnier said. "They bring a lot more diversity to the game. We know what we're doing. We're good, and we're going to get it done."
Mayde Creek's only loss is to Dallas Mansfield Timberview. The Rams won the consolation bracket of the Magnolia Tournament.
"Guys had us third or fourth in district, and that's fine," Fobb said. "We don't care about that. We come here and work. I call it a blue-collar program. This was a really good, legitimate win for us against a strong, playoff-caliber team."
Mayde Creek senior Simone Ballard recently verbally committed to continue her track and field career at Baylor.
In middle school, Simone Ballard would compare her track times to those of older athletes, high school and even some in college, to see how she measured up.
She came away thinking the same thing each time.
"It was then that I knew, if I worked hard, I could one day compete on the collegiate level," Ballard said.
So, the dynamic runner went out and worked.
On Oct. 19, the Mayde Creek senior verbally committed to Baylor, where she will compete in the hurdles and sprints. Ballard is a decorated recruit for the Bears, whom she chose over Dartmouth, South Florida, UCLA, and Mississippi State.
First, I’d like to acknowledge that none of this would be possible without the unfailing glory and grace of GOD. I… https://t.co/9gbW6DN0SD — Simone Ballard (@Simone Ballard)
Ballard is a nationally ranked hurdler, a seven-time Junior Olympian and a four-time All-American. She holds personal records of 13.96 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, 45.37 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles, and 12.1 seconds in the 100-meter dash. At the USA Track and Field National Youth Outdoor Championships in June in Georgia, she finished second in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.38.
At five years old, Ballard started competing in track and field with the youth club Track Houston. Since then, she's never let up.
"I liked the fact that no one can discredit your accomplishments," Ballard said. "The clock doesn't lie."
Ballard said she cannot remember learning to hurdle. She grew up watching her older siblings compete in the event.
"One day, my mom took me to see if I could learn to hurdle and it just came naturally," Ballard said. "I ran up and, to everyone's surprise, I was able to take the hurdle, decent form and all. I don't ever remember being afraid of the hurdles."
While her start as a hurdler came rather easily, mastering it has not been so.
Ballard credits much of her success to her personal coach Marlon Odom, praising his ability to break down the sport, and explain things in a way she can understand and he can demonstrate.
"I'm still learning and improving daily," Ballard said. "You must have a certain mentality to be successful at hurdling. You must be resilient. My thought process is to be aggressive, attack, and run through the hurdles as if they are not even there. I constantly rely on drills and believing that I am the best on the line that day."
That innate competitive drive is appropriately accompanied by lofty aspirations.
"This year, I plan to run, run fast and have fun," Ballard said. "One goal is to help my team make it to the state championship and enjoy my senior season. After high school track is over, I would like to compete in the World U20 Champions, representing the USA."