This is an article I wrote for the College Park school newspaper about the school’s varsity basketball team.
Now past the halfway point of district play, the varsity boys basketball team finds itself in the midst of a fight to secure one of District 16-6A’s four playoff spots. While the 14-15 Cavaliers, currently 3-5 in district, will not be repeating as district champions, they have still managed to keep themselves in contention despite losing several key players from last year’s team, including last season’s three top scorers.
For the Cavaliers, preparation for the tough competition in district play began in non-district season, as the Cavaliers played many highly skilled teams in the early weeks of the year.
“We played one of the toughest non-district schedules in the state,” Head Coach Clifton McNeely said. “We played eight state-ranked teams and so we did our diligence in seeking out the best possible teams to play against.”
To make matters tougher, most of those games were played on either a neutral court in tournaments or at the opposing team’s gym. The only home game in the first part of the season came in a win against Lufkin, Nov. 24. After that, the next home game did not come until the new year, Jan.2 against Atascocita. However, when the team is at home, they played well, going 3-1 with the only loss coming to Atascocita, ranked second in the entire state.
In Tuesday night’s game against the Highlanders to a sold out crowd, the Cavs did not come away with the win they needed. The pace of the game kept fans on their feet as the capacity crowd celebrated every Cav score. Even though the game went back and forth, The Woodlands pulled out the win.
The team has a mix of both underclassmen and seniors that helps the team succeed. Several key players from last season have returned, and they are joined by several new faces ready to contribute.
“Dax Deboer, McKinley Green, Quentin Grimes and Jordan Gilliam bring youth and talent,” Coach McNeely said. “Brett Reed, Chandler Morris, Eric Kelley and Stuart Filkowski bring experience from last year’s team that had great success.”
The team, led by Green and Morris, have shown great improvements since the beginning of the season.
“We had many players who had no varsity experience and some who played minor roles last season,” Coach McNeely said. “We have gotten better each game because players are getting experience at the 6A level and that is essential to success.
The team has shown great teamwork, as six players on the team average over six points a game, including over 13 per game from the team’s leading scorer, Senior Brett Reed, and over 63 percent of the baskets the team makes come from assists.
The team anticipates all their hard work pays off with a spot in the playoffs. It will not be easy, but the team feels up to the challenge.
“I want every senior class to experience the playoffs,” Coach McNeely said. “Getting to the playoffs each and every year will always be our goal. The playoffs are in reach and once we secure a spot our goal will be to advance.”
The Cavaliers will need to finish strong to accomplish their goals, as they are currently fifth in district, just on the outside looking in. However, they have big opportunities to make up ground over the next few weeks with games against Oak Ridge, Summer Creek, Kingwood, and Conroe.