High School: High School
Junior 6-7 power forward LeBryan Nash piled up 26 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a block, dominating the first half and leading Lincoln (21-2, 7-0), the fourth-ranked team in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 4A poll, to a 65-54 victory over No. 7 Woodrow Wilson (19-7, 5-2) at Forester Field.
“Prime-time players show up for prime-time games, and that’s what L.B. is – a prime-time player,” Lincoln head coach Leonard Bishop said.
After missing his first shot from the field, Nash could not be stopped in the first half, outscoring the Wildcats single-handedly, 23-20, as he hit 9-of-11 shots.
Playing in front of scouts from Oklahoma and Kentucky (including former NBA point guard Rod Strickland from the latter), Nash hit his only 3-pointer, and he knocked down lay-ups, jumpers and dunks -- rocking the rim with a thunderous put-back to beat the first-quarter buzzer and adding a crowd-pleasing alley-oop in the second quarter.
By the midway point in the second, Nash forced exasperated Woodrow coach Pat Washington to shout at his players, “Would somebody please stop him?”
Nash said he was just taking advantage of his opportunities.
“I could penetrate on them,” Nash said. “They were running a 1-3-1 zone, so I just kept going to the middle all of the time, and it was wide open.”
With Nash romping, Lincoln opened up a 32-20 halftime lead despite the fact that the rest of the Tigers only managed to shoot 4-of-22 from the field in the half.
The second half was a different story. Woodrow switched to a box-and-one, clamping down on Nash with a double team that denied him the ball. He only managed three shots from the field after the intermission.
The Wildcats came roaring back into the game, as guard Curtis Davis started hitting his 3-pointers and penetrating to float in one-handers over the out-stretched arms of Nash and fellow Lincoln big man Keaton Miles, who finished with only five points but had 17 rebounds and four blocks. Davis scored all but two of his team-high 21 points in the second half.
With Davis on fire, Woodrow cut the deficit to 33-30 with 4:48 left in the third quarter. While the Wildcats caught up to Nash on the scoreboard, that’s as close as they got to the Tigers. Lincoln adjusted to Woodrow’s focus on Nash, and the rest of the Tigers stepped up. Nash scored only a single point in the fourth quarter, and the Tigers recorded 23.
“I had to be a decoy and kick it out to the open shooters,” Nash said.
“We did a great job in the fourth quarter of knocking down some open shots,” added Bishop.
Lincoln's DeKabriean Eldridge scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth and recorded his team's second double-double of the game with 10 rebounds. The Tigers kept the Wildcats from getting second-chance points with a 41-29 rebounding advantage and hit 9-of-14 free throws to hold off Woodrow in the final frame.
It just so happens that those three names were the same person.
"Darius White, Darius White, Darius White," Hughes said, referring to the four-star football recruit at wide receiver who has verbally committed to Texas already (and isn't likely to see the basketball court in college).
Hughes and Dunbar had to wait until the end of football season -- and then there was a three-week waiting period in late December/early January around the Under Armor All-American game -- for White to join them, but they were happy when he returned.
Now, Dunbar (10-12, 7-4 in District 7-4A) looks poised to make a run at the playoffs after having won five in a row going into Friday's game against Fort Worth Eastern Hills (7:30 p.m. at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center). The Highlanders (17-7, 9-2) beat Dunbar 67-53 the first time these two teams played.
Heritage only has one player averaging in double figures -- Austin Leonard -- and he is hovering around 10 points per game. Kyle Pilgrim, Colten Gober, Nash Nelson and Leonard all are shooting 40 percent or better from 3-point range.
"It varies -- it's so crazy," Gober said. "We distribute the ball well. One night a kid might have 24 points, and the next night he'll have two."
The Panthers (17-9, 6-2 in District 5-5A) will need everyone hitting on all cylinders Friday at 8 p.m. as they play at District 5-5A co-leader Justin Northwest (15-8). Colleyville Heritage lost 53-51 to Northwest the first time these two teams played.
"It was back and forth, and there were probably 10 lead changes," Gober said. "We probably had two or three shots at the end of the game to tie it ... but we know it didn't come down to the last possession. There were a lot of things before that that we should have done a lot better."
The Hawks trailed first-place Azle until the final minute, and Bollinger came off the bench and had a steal and layup that ended as a three-point play to put Birdville up by three points in what wound up as a 55-52 home win.
"He made a great play and picked us up and played well in the fourth quarter," Birdville coach Jeff Fitch said. "We felt like he had the quickness to give us a little spark there. Sure enough, he did."
Werner added 30 points, and the Birdville defense -- led by the play of senior Kevin Bedford -- held Azle to just 14 second-half points, including three in the fourth quarter.
"It was real exciting," Fitch said. "It was a great tribute to our kids and their character."
Birdville (18-7, 6-2 in District 6-4A) plays at Saginaw (7-14, 2-5) at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.
Cedar Hill safety Elisha Olabode (5-10, 170) has pledged to TCU for the Class of 2010, choosing the Horned Frogs over offers from Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and Louisiana Tech.
As a senior, Olabode, a three-star recruit on the ESPNU 150, recorded 61 tackles, eight tackles for loss and four interceptions earning Class 5A First Team All-State recognition.
Olabode is the 13th commitment for the Frogs.
A fourth-quarter comeback spurred Arlington Bowie to a 53-48 boys basketball victory over visiting Mesquite on Monday afternoon in its final game before the holiday break.
The win was the third in a row for Bowie (13-3), No. 25 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches state rankings.
Bowie entered the fourth quarter trailing by six points, but outscored Mesquite (No. 12 in the state poll) 21-10 in the final eight minutes.
Tre Potter, a 5-9 point guard, led Bowie in scoring with 13 points. He is averaging 10 points and five assists.
Lamark Barnes, a 6-5, 265-pound forward, scored 12 points. Barnes is averaging 11 points and 10 rebounds.
"Tre and Lamark have been playing really well for us,'' Bowie coach Allen Gratts said.
Christian Jones, a 6-5 forward, also had 12 points.
Bowie, which won 10 of its first 11, suffered two losses in a tournament a couple of weeks ago in the Houston area. Those losses caused Bowie to drop five rungs in the state poll.
Bowie shared the District 4-5A title with Mansfield Summit with last season and should contend again this year. Mansfield and Arlington are also off to fast starts.
Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) finished 12-0, winning their fourth consecutive state title and out-of-state victories against De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) and Prattville (Ala.).
Cedar Hill (12-1) was the only other local school represented in the FAB 50, finishing at No. 36 in the rankings.
It didn't take long for Scotty Young to show he was a special player.
On his first snap as Denton Ryan's starting quarterback in 2008, he threw an 80-yard touchdown pass.
It foreshadowed a career that saw Young throw 129 touchdowns in two years, culminating in Young receiving Texas Associated Press Sports Editors Player of the Year on Saturday.
"It kind of foretold of things to come," Ryan coach Joey Florence said. "It started our 2008 season pretty good."
The 2008 season was an important one for Young and Ryan. Young helped resurrect a program that lost in the first round of the playoffs three years in a row after reaching four consecutive state title games from 2000-03, winning two of them.
With Young the past two seasons, Ryan won five playoff games and reclaimed its status as an elite Class 4A program in the state.
Young twice fell short of breaking Graham Harrell's single season touchdown passes record of 67. He threw 65 in 2008 and 64 this year.
Harrell will likely be a measuring stick for Young for some time as he's orally committed to play quarterback at Texas Tech, where Harrell excelled for three years.
"He looks every bit like a Texas Tech quarterback," Lake Dallas coach Michael Young said.
Wrote Rankin: The "6-9, 240-pound sophomore is a physical and powerful presence in the lane with comfortable range to about 15 feet. This kid is a high-major prospect for sure -- think Tyler Hansbrough."
The Denison Yellow Jackets hope experience gives them an advantage over a young Aledo team in a matchup between very similar teams.
Denison (13-1) features nine three-year starters while a handful of sophomores has led Aledo to a 13-1 record and a berth in the Class 4A Division II state semifinals at 2 p.m. Saturday at Denton's C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
Both teams rely on their top-flight running games and bruising defensive front sevens, but a few more years of seasoning may separate Denison.
"They're mirrors of us offensively," Denison coach Cody White said. "They run the football out of the gun. We're pretty similar. It might be a pretty short game."
Aledo's personnel looks much like Denison's did in 2007 when the Yellow Jackets started nine sophomores. The difference is Denison missed the playoffs that year while Aledo is a win away from the state title game.
"I actually told [Aledo head coach Tim Buchanan] 'You ought to throw this one because you're probably going to win it the next two years,'" White joked. "He said he wouldn't do that, so we're going to have to play."
Sophomores lead the Bearcats as QB Matt Bishop and RB Jonathan Gray account for the majority of Aledo's offensive production. Gray rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns in Aledo's 34-22 win over Everman last week.
Denison took its lumps with QB Jordan Taylor and RB D.J. Jones in 2007, but now benefit from it. Taylor rushed for 223 yards and two touchdowns in Denison's 49-35 win over Sulphur Springs while Jones added 168.
Jones and Gray are among the best running backs in the state. Jones holds scholarship offers from Florida, Texas Tech and Texas A&M among others while Gray's natural size and speed make him a potential prospect in 2012.
Both teams excel in run defense, so the back that has the better day may lead his team to victory.
"The strength of our team is our running game and the strength of their defense is their run defense," White said. "That's going to be a huge key to the whole deal."
The Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 5A poll was rearranged this weekend by the play in the Garland Boys Coca-Cola Tournament.
Unranked Garland (5-3) upset then-No. 6 Garland Lakeview Centennial (8-1) in the semifinals, 68-64, before losing to then-unranked Garland Naaman Forest (10-1) in overtime in the championship game, 56-46, on Saturday. As a result, Naaman Forest shot up the rankings to No. 3, and Lakeview slipped down to No. 7. Garland remains unranked.
Despite finishing third in District 10-5A in 2008, Lakeview started the season as a poll favorite because of a returning starting five, which includes senior Ron Williams and juniors Toddrick Gotcher and Chris Jones. The team's four juniors have been starting since they were freshmen. Garland, which finished second in district, lost leading scorer Finnis Craddock, Josh Otway and Marquis Simms to graduation. Naaman, which won the district crown, graduated leading scorer Terry Lewis.
Seeing their district opponent ranked so highly after finishing above them was enough motivation for Garland coach Randy Love. He's seeing maturity out of his more inexperienced players and leadership from returning senior starters Marcus Thompson, a 5-9 point guard, and 6-8 post Emmanuel Okoroba.
"I thought we had a chance. Our kids have been playing really hard, but our kids have still been making mistakes here and there." Love said. "Lakeview is in our district, so we're always ready to play somebody from our district. Being a ranked team, the kids felt like they had something extra to prove. Last year, we finished second, they finished third. This year, they're ranked No. 6 in the state. We just went out and played hard and well."
Love hopes the victory over Lakeview will affect district play, which begins on Jan. 2.
"Whenever you play somebody from the district, you want to win," he said. "The next time we play, we'll make adjustments and they'll make adjustments, but it'll still be in the back of our minds that we beat them and we can do it again."
Garland will try to keep the hot run going on Tuesday at home against North Mesquite before heading to the C.W. Jackson Cedar Hill Lions Club Tournament on Thursday through Saturday. Lakeview looks to bounce back at Richland on Tuesday and then heads across Garland to the Brooke D. Nichols South Garland Shootout over the weekend. Naaman plays host to Allen on Tuesday before joining Lakeview in the shootout on Thursday.
Here's an update on a local athlete from Tom Luginbill, the national recruiting director for ESPN's Scouts Inc. For more information on national recruits, visit their site.
Skyline wide receiver Mike Davis (Scouts Grade: 82; ESPNU150 rank: 55), who is ranked as the 10th-best recruit at his position in the country, isn't done searching for a school.
Davis, who has committed to LSU, will make an official visit to Texas on Dec. 11 and is considering additional visits to Florida, California and North Carolina, ESPN Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin has reported.
The 2009 playoffs presented Denton Guyer a chance at redemption.
The last two teams to beat the Wildcats -- Denton Ryan and Longview -- have come up in the Class 4A Division I bracket. Guyer (13-1) disposed of the former Saturday, beating Ryan, 28-25, in a game where the Wildcats corrected much of what went wrong in their meeting a month ago.
The win puts Guyer in a rematch of last year's state semifinals with Longview, which pulled away in the fourth quarter from a Wildcat team making its first appearance in the playoffs.
Guyer coach John Walsh said his team relishes the opportunity to face Longview again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Kincaide Stadium in Dallas, but a berth in the state title game is more motivation than revenge.
"The revenge factor is icing on the cake," Walsh said. "The most important thing is to get to the next round."
Two key adjustments helped propel Guyer over Ryan (12-2). The first time they played, Ryan QB Scotty Young burned Guyer with big plays en route to a 50-29 win as the Wildcats played man coverage against deep threats Bud Sasser and Michael Cudd.
On Saturday, Guyer used primarily zone defense and forced five interceptions -- three in the end zone and one that was returned for a touchdown.
The Wildcats also committed to running the ball to keep Young off the field. Guyer threw the ball 28 times in the first game but just 12 times Saturday.
"We took the big play away and forced them to work the ball," Walsh said.
Big adjustments likely aren't coming against Longview. The Lobos (13-1) beat Guyer, 41-30, in 2008 thanks to fantastic fourth-quarter plays from QB Aaron Johnson.
Both teams are basically the same from last year. Each returned 16 players, including both quarterbacks and all the major offensive contributors, making the game essentially a redo for Guyer.
Walsh believes with a more mature and experienced team, Guyer can play a better fourth quarter and advance to the state title game in just its fourth year of varsity play.
"We led for three quarters and didn't finish the job," Walsh said of last year's game with Longview. "Our deal is we're going to finish the job we didn't get done last year."
Traditional girls basketball power Duncanville is 14-0 after winning the three-day DeSoto Rotary Tournament on Saturday, making good on this year's motto: "Our blood. Our sweat. Your tears."
The Pantherettes won their last three tournament games by a total of four points -- 46-45 over Plano West, 45-44 over Skyline and 56-54 over host DeSoto.
"It is keeping us on our toes,'' Duncanville coach Cathy Self-Morgan said of the close calls. "Teams are shooting well against us, and we're helping out by missing too many layups and free throws.
"But 14-0 is a lot better than last year.''
A season ago, Duncanville lost 10 of its first 22 games but still managed to make it to the Class 5A Region I final.
In DeSoto, Duncanville's inside combination of 6-2 junior Bunny Williams and 5-11 senior Akil Simpson finished 1-2 in scoring in all of the close victories.
"Those two have been playing well and it has been by committee outside,'' Self-Morgan said.
The Pantherettes, six-time state champions, have made it to the state tournament 20 times and have won 67 district titles.
Duncanville hosts Denton Ryan at 7 p.m. Tuesday and begins District 7-5A play Dec. 15 at Irving.
Abilene was convincing in its 13th straight victory without a loss.
Arlington Bowie coach Kenny Perry said he felt like his team lost to the state champion.
"It's been awhile since we played somebody that good,'' Perry said. "They had us on our heels. And we couldn't do anything offensively, either.''
Abilene junior running back Herschel Sims rushed 33 times for 208 yards and four touchdowns. But he spread the credit around afterward.
Abilene knows the time and site of next week's Class 5A Division II state semifinal: 2 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco. The opponent will be the winner of Saturday's Tyler John Tyer-Klein game.