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The Porter and New Caney rivalry has always been exciting in every sport. Both schools want to be better than the other to prove their place in New Caney ISD.
On Wenesday night, both boys' basketball teams headed into the game fearless. In the last December matchup, New Caney was victorious, so Porter had something to prove. Going into the match, both were ranked third in district play, making this a crucial game. Throughout the entire night, it was a back and forth game with both teams going in and giving it 100% and making the best when they had possession.
In the first quarter, for two whole minutes, no shots landed. Porter and New Caney both rebounded each other's shots. Porter took the first point after this stalemate with a three-pointer by Luke Currier. New Caney answered back with a three-pointer of their own. As the first quarter came to an end Porter led the game 17-9.
At the end of the second quarter, New Caney was on top. The score was 30-28. Both teams were ready to give it their all as the final stretch began. In the second half of the game, it was back and forth with only a two-point margin at any given time. New Caney scored and Porter answered back. It seemed as if no one could keep the lead.
As we reached the final quarter, things were getting heated. Fouls and free throws were a huge game-changer. Both teams were in foul danger as things kept intensifying. Within the last five minutes of the game, New Caney made it to the free-throw line and made both shots, and as did Porter. New Caney went 19/19 on the free-throw line, while Porter went 23/27.
Porter's very own Ke'shawn Simon ended the night with five steals and 11 points. Another player that contributed to the Porter Spartans win was Colby Christian. The senior had a total of 12 points, in which three shots were three-pointers. Lastly, the player of the game for the Porter Spartans was Luke Currier. Currier ended the night with 24 points and three steals. He also went 9/9 on the free-throw line.
In the last 30 seconds, New Caney made a three-pointer and brought the score to 61-59. As Porter was fouled, two shots were given, but only one was made, and that was enough to bring the score to 61-60, making the Porter Spartans victorious.
Last night's win put the Porter boys in 3rd place in the district, and potentially playoff-bound. Meanwhile, New Caney is tied for 4th with Cleveland in the district. The next games will be crucial for both teams. Anything could happen.
Each year, after the regular season, coaches come together to recognize players within their district. In District 8-5A, the Offensive Newcomer Award recognizes new players in their first year of varsity for their excellence on the field. Out of nine teams in the district, one player from Porter High School stood out. That player was Joshua Evans-Pickens, the Offensive Newcomer of the Year for the 2020-2021 football season.
"Receiving this acknowledgment as a sophomore means a lot to me because it tells me that my hard work is paying off and if I keep working hard I might just have a chance to be good at the next level," Josh said.
Evans-Pickens finished off the season with 140 carries for a total of 1,208 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. He also finished with ten catches for 103 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. Overall, he averaged 8.6 yards per carry this season.
While receiving this honor, he was also nominated for the Courier Sports of Montgomery player of the week four times this season. Evans-Pickens refused to let defenders slow him down.
"We have talked for years about being explosive and 'never going down easy,"' his father said. "Joshua does a great job of keeping his balance and fighting for yards after contact."
He has always had a go-getter type of attitude. He was a playmaker in every game. During his game against Magnolia West, he was able to score a rushing touchdown within the last six seconds of the game. He would go into every game with the 'it's just another game' mentality. It had to be done, and he was willing to rack up the points.
"Going into games, I tried not to think about my high stats because I feel like I play better when I have something to prove," Josh said. "It keeps me from getting comfortable so that I can keep working hard to prove how good I am."
Josh has always been goal-oriented, especially with guidance from his older brother Caleb Evans-Pickens. During quarantine, especially, they took it upon themselves to eat right and work out every day. Josh likes to explore outside of his comfort zone and never settle for just average. He's the type of athlete who will go above and beyond to be extraordinary.
He couldn't have been able to accomplish any of this without the help of his brother Caleb, who would block for him, and his teammates doing their part.
"I would like to thank my whole family for their support, my teammates for pushing me every day, my offensive line for literally leading the way to my success, and mostly I'd like to thank God because without him none of this would be possible," Josh said.
His father has had the honor of watching his two younger sons play alongside their older brother, Caleb, in his senior year.
"It is an experience that I will never forget and feel truly blessed to have had," his father said. "As far as Joshua specifically, it was awesome to see the way he went to work every day. No matter the drill or how he was feeling, when it was time to go to work, that's exactly what he did."
He has always done a good job reading the field and was a real threat to other teams. He's made a point to maintain a good balance between church, school, and football while remaining humble. He is a true team player, as well as selfless.
When asked who is the most influential inspiring person for who, he was quick to point out his parents.
"I'd say the people that inspire me the most are my mom and dad because they have shown me what it takes to be greater in every part of my life, not just football," Josh said.
He is hoping to break every rushing record there is and lead the team to a district championship.
Every game was very emotional for his mother, Coach Alicia Evans-Pickens. To her, every game was "fun to watch". All three of her oldest boys play at the varsity level. She describes it as a blessing and such a positive thing with everything negative that's happened this year.
"It's truly a blessing in disguise," his mother said. "Being able to watch my husband coach them and support each other each Friday was so emotional. It's a rare opportunity and not a very common combination you see."
Head Football Coach and Athletic Director for Porter High School, Jim Holley, recognizes Josh's accomplishments and believes this is only the beginning of an outstanding career.
"Being a sophomore and starting has lots of challenges, but Josh was able to stay focused and his play was consistent throughout the season," Coach Holley said. "Next season will be a big test for Josh. He will need to have a big off-season and a great summer. I want him to finish the next two years being the most productive offensive player to ever come through Porter High School."As far as receiving this award, his father wants him to never be satisfied. To be able to be extraordinary and always improve and do better.
"I want him to keep pushing to become the absolute best ballplayer that he can become," his father Coach Evans-Pickens said. "I want him to always want more and to take the attitude that he can always improve and do better."
With two seasons left, The Offensive Newcomer of the Year award is the first step of a high school career on the rise.