High School: North Crowley

FM Marcus uses fast start to reach region final

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
9:58
PM CT
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Nick Banyard scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to lead Flower Mound Marcus past North Crowley, 66-55, to advance to the 5A Region 1 final.

Oklahoma State commit and ESPNU 100 No. 12 Marcus Smart had a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, and his fellow OSU commit Phil Forte dropped in 13 points.

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Smart and Banyard both said they were feeling ill before the game.

"It was hard for me to breath in the first half," Smart said. "It go so bad that I could barely get up and down the court, and I felt like I was about to pass out."

Banyard, who only scored two points in the first half, said he knew he'd have to step it up coming out of the locker room.

"I came into the second half frustrated and coach said they needed me to win the game," Banyard said. "He said to just keep up the hard work and it will all come to you."

Marcus jumped out to an 18-7 first-quarter lead off the hot shooting of Smart and Forte. The game was turning into a blowout as the Marauders continued their run to go up 23-7, but North Crowley made a 9-0 run to get back to the game.

North Crowley's Braxton Reeves hit back-to-back three pointers and Quinton Moncrief hit a layup with three seconds left in the first half to cap off a 17-4 run to go into the locker room down just 27-24.

The teams traded buckets throughout the third. A late Banyard 3-pointer put Marcus up 42-35 heading into the fourth quarter.

Marcus extended its lead on Banyard's huge alley-oop from A.J. Luckey to go up 57-43 with 3:49 left.

The jam silenced the North Crowley crowd, but it didn't slow down the Panthers. They responded with a 9-4 run to bring North Crowley within nine points at 61-52 with 1:14 left in the game.

Marcus shut down the Panthers offense in the last minute to squash any comeback chances.

Braxton Reeves led North Crowley with 17 points.

The Marauders take on South Grand Prairie on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Fort Worth's Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.

5A Region I area qualifiers spread scoring load

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
5:56
PM CT
Three Class 5A Region I boys basketball tournament area qualifiers share the offensive philosophy of spreading the scoring around.

Flower Mound Marcus, North Crowley and South Grand Prairie all lack a player averaging as much as 15 points per game, a departure from the days when successful teams depended on one standout player to carry the scoring load.

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North Crowley, making its fifth straight regional tournament appearance, is led in scoring by Braxton Reeves (10.8), followed by Calvin Ward (10.1) and Jalen McCloud (10.0). All three are guards.

“McCloud had a 32-point game and Ward has had several in the 20s, so we’re not necessarily balanced on any given night,’’ said North Crowley coach Tommy Brakel. “But over the course of almost 40 games, things even out.

“We have eight guys that can be our leading scorer,’’ Brakel added. “I’m having so much fun coaching them.’’

South Grand Prairie, making its first regional appearance in 26 years, is led in scoring by point guard Jovan Austin (12.1), followed by post Chris Washburn (11.5) and guard Jayrn Johnson (10.1).

Marcus, the defending state champion going for its third straight state Final Four appearance, is led by guards Phil Forte (14.9) and Marcus Smart (13.6) and forward Nick Banyard (9.8).

North Crowley meets Marcus in the regional semifinal opener, scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center. South Grand Prairie faces El Paso Hanks in the 8 p.m. nightcap.

Brakel said it was with great difficulty that he got away from a structured offense, with plays specifically designed to free up a certain player, for a more free-flowing motion-style trend the Panthers have used the last five seasons.

He said he was converted after hearing John Calipari, now the University of Kentucky basketball coach, speak at a clinic. Because Calipari, then at Memphis, became involved in the recruitment of North Crowley’s Willie Warren, Brakel was able to gain more insight into the motion offense.

“It was hard for me because it meant giving up some control of what is happening on the floor,’’ Brakel said. “But Memphis had a great season with the same stuff, we were running the same stuff and our kids realized that.’’

North Crowley used the motion offense when it won the Class 5A state title in 2008. Brakel said it is a reason the Panthers are balanced now.

“From a defensive point of view, I’m not sure I’d rather face a team that has one big scorer or balanced scoring,’’ Brakel said. “I know it is going to be a challenge against Marcus because they have three of the best players in the state. I’ve watched so much tape of them this week I feel like I could coach them myself.’’

Marcus, SGP on collision course in 5A Region I

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
7:11
PM CT
CLASS 5A REGION 1 BOYS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

(At Fort Worth‘s Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center)

FRIDAY'S SEMIFINALS

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6 p.m.: North Crowley vs. Flower Mound Marcus

8 p.m.: South Grand Prairie vs. El Paso Hanks

SATURDAY'S CHAMPIONSHIP

1 p.m.: Semifinal winners

HOW THEY GOT HERE

North Crowley (32-4): The District 4-5A champion defeated Midland in bi-district 64-36; El Paso Coronado in area 80-36; Arlington Bowie in regional quarterfinals 64-33.

Flower Mound Marcus (35-2): The District 8-5A champion defeated Justin Northwest in bi-district 51-39; Duncanville in area 65-37; Mansfield Timberview in regional quarterfinals 78-56.

South Grand Prairie (34-2): The District 5-5A champion defeated Irving MacArthur in bi-district 93-49; Plano West in area 63-53; Hebron in regional quarterfinals 67-49.

El Paso Hanks (25-8): The District 1-5A co-champion defeated Amarillo Tascosa in bi-district 70-58; Arlington Martin in area 59-46; San Angelo Central in regional quarterfinals 70-68.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

North Crowley : Braxton Reeves (6-4, Sr. G) leads the team in scoring (10.8) and rebounds (5.3); Taylor Luster (5-10, Sr. G) leads in assists (4.2).

Flower Mound Marcus : Phil Forte (5-11 Sr. G) is the team's leading scorer (14.9). Marcus Smart (6-3 Sr. G) is the top rebounder (8.9). Both are Oklahoma State signees.

South Grand Prairie: Jovan Austin (6-0, Sr. PG) is the team's leading scorer (12.1); Chris Washburn (6-8, Sr. C) is the leading rebounder (7.5).

El Paso Hanks: Christian Velasquez (5-11, Sr. G) is the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs (24.3); Andy Arias (5-10, So. G) scored 15 points in the most recent victory.

LAST YEAR

North Crowley: Lost to Flower Mound Marcus 49-43 in a regional semifinal.

Flower Mound Marcus: Won the state championship.

South Grand Prairie: Lost to Colleyville Heritage 70-63 in bi-district.

El Paso Hanks: Failed to make the playoffs.

North Crowley defense shuts down Arl. Bowie

February, 27, 2012
2/27/12
9:47
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas – In its previous two playoff games, North Crowley had held its opponents to no more than 36 points.

[+] EnlargeJalen McCloud
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comNorth Crowley advances to the regional tournament to face the winner of Flower Mound Marcus and Mansfield Timberview.
That trend continued Monday in North Crowley’s 64-33 rout of Arlington Bowie (16-17) in the regional quarterfinals at Arlington Martin.

North Crowley (31-4) opened the game on a quick 6-2 run, which would turn into a 22-6 run throughout the first quarter.

North Crowley’s strong press in the second quarter created turnovers that gave senior guard Braxton Reeves a chance to shine from behind the arc, hitting three 3-pointers in a span of two minutes in the second quarter.

All of Reeves' 12 points came from behind the arc.

North Crowley’s coach Tommy Brakel said they changed their defensive style right before the playoffs, allowing them to keep full-court pressure, but have the opportunity to pull back into a half-court defense to defend against easy, fastbreak points.

“It’s creating extra possessions on the offensive ends and it’s letting them shoot for a higher percentage on the back end,” Brakel said.

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Leading the charge for North Crowley was senior guard Calvin Ward with 17 points and nine rebounds.

“I was as proud of him as everyone because he went out and competed,” Brakel said. “There was one offensive rebound he grabbed behind his head and put it back. That’s the kind of energy you have to have in a game like this and once you get that energy from a player, it gets so contagious.”

North Crowley advances to the regional tournament at Fort Worth’s Wilkerson-Grines Activity Center to play the winner of the Flower Mound Marcus and Mansfield Timberview regional quarterfinal.

Marcus knocked North Crowley out of the playoffs last season in a 49-43 win in route to a 5A state championship.

“You line up and compete once you get in the playoffs and hope you get back,” Brakel said. “It’s going to be loaded again in the regional tournament.”

Four 5A districts in area undergo little change

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
2:32
PM CT
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas -- The makeup changed very little or not at all in four of the area’s nine Class 5A districts at Thursday's UIL reclassification and realignment.

*The current District 4-5A (five Arlington schools, Fort Worth Paschal, North Crowley and Weatherford) remained intact but, because of district consolidation in West Texas, changed its number to 3-5A.

That’s an agreeable change, said Anthony Criss, football coach at Arlington Sam Houston and former Arlington ISD assistant athletic director.

“It’s great for Arlington because it means we stay in the area for first-round playoff games instead of going to West Texas,’’ Criss said. “We’d still go west once, but not until the second round.''

*The current District 5-5A retained seven of its eight members in the new District 7-5A: Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, Grand Prairie, South Grand Prairie, Mansfield and Mansfield Timberview. The only change is Mansfield Legacy drops down to Class 4A and powerhouse DeSoto takes its place.

“A tough district just got tougher,’’ said Grand Prairie coach Gary Bartel.

*In District 9-5A, Dallas Samuell dropped to Class 4A and was replaced by Richardson Pearce, which is moving back up to 5A. The other seven members are unchanged: Dallas Jesuit, Dallas Skyline, Dallas Sunset, Dallas W.T. White, Richardson, Richardson Berkner and Lake Highlands.

“I wasn’t sure Jesuit would stay in,’’ said Skyline coach Reginald Samples. “In fact, we had agreed to play them in a nondistrict game if they weren’t in our district.’’

*The seven Garland ISD schools that made up 10-5A in the last realignment are now without McKinney Boyd as they go forward as District 11-5A with this lineup: Garland, Garland Lakeview, Garland Naaman Forest, North Garland, Rowlett, Sachse and South Garland.

North Crowley boys turn up the heat on Martin

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
11:55
PM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Full-court defensive pressure is a staple of North Crowley boys basketball.

Opponents know it is coming and that can’t be a good feeling.

“It’s the way we play,’’ Panthers coach Tommy Brakel said. “A lot of teams can handle it for eight or 10 minutes or even a half. But we’re used to playing that way and we go a little deeper with our bench than most teams.’’

North Crowley, No. 6 in ESPNDallas.com's Class 5A Top 10, used its ball-hawking skills to defeat Arlington Martin, 73-59, in a match-up of two 3-0 District 4-5A teams Tuesday night at Martin High School.

The win for North Crowley (18-4, 4-0) was its 62nd consecutive district victory, a streak that began in 2007.

Leading the way for the Panthers was 5-11 junior guard Jalen McCloud, who scored 30 points and added eight steals. Good defense led to some easy baskets.

“My job on the press is to do a lot of trapping,’’ said McCloud. “It is all about trapping and rotating.’’

On the offensive end, McCloud connected on four 3-pointers, confirming that a wrist injury that troubled him early in the season is completely healed.

“The wrist hasn’t bothered me really for the last three weeks and I’m shooting with confidence now,’’ said McCloud, who transferred to North Crowley from North Carolina in the second semester of his freshman year. “The points don’t matter to me. It is all about wins.’’

Brakel was impressed not only by McCloud’s shooting, but in his other contributions.

“It was a solid game he played with the steals and some key rebounds, too,’’ the coach said. “We’ve known for a while that he is going to be a good one. We have several guys that can step up on a given night.’’

Only one time all evening did North Crowley face a deficit (at 12-10). McCloud drilled a 3-pointer and then came up with a steal and a layup to begin a 8-0 run in the final two minutes of the first period to turn momentum.

Martin (14-6, 3-1) was kept at arm’s length the rest of the way, despite 16 points from 6-4 sophomore Nick Babb. The Warriors dropped into a second-place tie in 4-5A with Arlington Lamar.

“This is a good win on the road in front of a nice crowd,’’ Brakel said. “We played through some adversity and that’s what you have to do when you look ahead to the playoffs.’’

Girls: North Crowley 67, Arlington Martin 49: Kiara Davis connected on six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 37 points to lead North Crowley (16-7, 6-0).

A healthy Davis is finally getting a chance to show what she can do. She had left and right ACL tears in her freshman season and at the end of her sophomore season.

Davis likes the way the direction her team, ranked No. 9 in 5A by ESPNDallas.com, is headed.

“Our chemistry is getting a lot better,’’ the 5-10 guard said. “We’re starting to do things together off the court.’’

Bethany Gonzalez led Martin (12-10, 3-3) with 15 points.

Thursday's Whataburger Tournament pairings

December, 28, 2011
12/28/11
9:59
PM CT
Winner's bracket:

Richardson Berkner vs. Milwaukee King, 9 a.m.

Flower Mound Marcus vs. Richland, 11 a.m.

Semifinal between these winners is at 8 p.m.

DeSoto vs. Plano West, 12:30 p.m.

North Crowley vs. Little Rock Parkview, 2 p.m.

Semifinal between these winners is at 9:30 p.m.

Consolation bracket:

Coppell vs. Fort Worth Arlington Heights, 8 a.m.

Hurst L.D. Bell vs. Houston Klein Forest, 3:30 p.m.

Justin Northwest vs. Garland Naaman Forest, 5:00 p.m.

Arlington Martin vs. Duncanville, 6:30 p.m.

54th Whataburger Tournament Live Blog

December, 28, 2011
12/28/11
12:28
PM CT
Game 8: Little Rock Parkview 73, Hurst L.D. Bell 51.

The ESPNHS No. 42 team, Little Rock Parkview, turned out to be quite the unlucky draw for Hurst L.D. Bell in the opening round of the tournament.

Parkview's Anton Beard dropped 17 on the Raiders while Imara Ready and Emmanuel Adoyi both tallied 14 points of their own in the blowout effort.

Bell's Garrett Hammonds managed a team-high 15, hitting Bell's only two 3's of the game.

Bell moves into the consolation bracket to face Houston Klein Forest at 3:30 p.m. Thursday while Parkview will take on North Crowley Thursday at 2 p.m.

Game 7: Flower Mound Marcus 45, Justin Northwest 38.

Game 6: Milwaukee King 67, Duncanville 54.

Rufus King out of Milwaukee proved to be more than Duncanville could handle, holding a lead throughout the course of the game.

King hit six from behind the arch, aiding four players to hit the double digit point mark. Dominique Borom led King's scoring with 16 points.

Duncanville's shot selection was less than optimum and it failed to make the adjustment of penetrating for a higher percentage shot. Duncanville hit six 3-pointers, but two came when the game had been relinquished late in the fourth quarter.

Omar Sherman led Duncanville in points with 14, followed by Brian Hampton with 11. Nine Duncanville players found the scoresheet, but only three contributed more than four points.

Game 5: North Crowley 63, Houston Klein Forest 53.

North Crowley relied on its depth to outlast Klein Forest in its first-round matchup -- a trait not normally common of a Panther team.

Instead of relying on one superstar to carry the team as it has in the past, North Crowley spread its points out between eight players on it's 15 man roster.

Leading the charge was guard Calvin Ward with a game-high 18 points, followed by Taylor Luster with 10. Four other players scored more than five points in the game.

North Crowley built its lead in the first half, outscoring Klein Forest 34-22, which included an 18-point first quarter. Ward was responsible for 10 of those points in the opening frame.

Klein Forest won the battle of the second half by two points, but it wasn't nearly enough to challenge North Crowley for the lead.

Game 4: No. 33 DeSoto 77, Coppell 39.

Game 3: Richland 64, Garland Naaman Forest 58.

Junior wing Leyton Hammonds tore through the Naaman Forest defense to score 22 points and lead his team into the winners bracket of the Whataburger Tournament.

Hammonds hot hand drew the attention of the Naaman Forest defense, making him a useful decoy in Richand's press break in the second half. The majority of Richland's fourth quarter points came on fast break layups out of the break.

The game was won in the third quarter when Richland was able to double up on Naaman Forest 19-8.

Naaman Forest's Demarcus Holland led his squad in scoring with 21 points. Texas commit Price Ibeh was held in check with just 7 points in the game, the final two on a huge dunk in the fourth quarter.

Game 2: Richardson Berkner 73, Arlington Martin 60

After a hot Berkner start in the first half, including several basket-shaking dunks, Martin made a strong push in the second half, but couldn't overcome a very talented Berkner squad.

Berkner junior forward Kendal Harris led his team in scoring with 21-points, tying Martin's Myles Johnson for the game high.

Berkner dominated the glass, with the vast majority of its points coming inside the paint.

Martin football All-American Devonte Fields was the basketball team's force inside, tallying 13 points of his own.

Game 1: Plano West 70, Fort Worth Arlington Heights 60 (3OT)

It took two desperation 3's from Fort Worth Arlington Heights to push the game into overtime and then a second overtime, but Plano West capitalized on turnovers in the third extra frame to put away the Yellowjackets.

Height's Travis Williams received a dish off a rebound with seconds remaining in regulation and drilled a 3-pointer to give his team extra life in overtime. The game then seemed out of reach a gain as the clock ticked away in the first overtime period, but Hight's Marshall Calvin swished a circus shot from behind the arch to force a third overtime.

In the end, West's defense was too much for Heights to handle after three extra periods of basketball, especially when Heights only had five players put up points in the game.

West struggled through regulation to contain Heights small but elusive point guard Harrison Wagner who slashed through the lane for a game-high 31 points.

Plano West's point production was split between forwards T.J. Cline and Holt Harmon, who dominated the post game for 19 points a piece.

Top recruits competing in Whataburger Tourney

December, 26, 2011
12/26/11
10:59
PM CT
In the first edition of the event that would become know as the Whataburger Basketball Tournament, Fort Worth Arlington Heights was defeated by Bowie, 70-53, in the championship match.

Fifty-four tournaments later, Arlington Heights returns looking to claim a title in what has become the area’s premiere holiday showcase.

A trip to the championship game will be a tall task for any team invited to the Boys Orange Bracket of the tournament at Birdville’s W.G. Thomas Coliseum, which includes two nationally ranked and eight state ranked teams in the field of 16.

Games begin Wednesday morning and continue through the winner’s bracket championship Friday at 8:15 p.m.

ESPNHS Fab 50 No. 11 Flower Mound Marcus headlines the tournament, followed by No. 39 DeSoto.

Two of the nation's top recruits are featured on these two squads, No. 11 in 2012's Marcus Smart and No. 21 in 2013's Matt Jones. Smart has already signed with Oklahoma State and Jones has a commitment to Duke.

DeSoto has the toughest draw in Wednesday’s opening round, facing Texas Association of Basketball Coaches No. 11 team in the state, Coppell, at 2:30 p.m.

The only other opening-round game that features two ranked teams is TABC No. 16 Garland Naaman Forest and No. 9 Richland at 1 p.m.

Prince Ibeh of Naaman Forest, a Texas commit, is also on the ESPNU Top 100 for the Class of 2012 at No. 79.

Tickets can be purchased at the tournament sites for $6 on Wednesday and $7 on Thursday and Friday. All-tournament passes are also available for $17 for one venue and $28 for all venues.

Wednesday’s Opening-Round Schedule

10:00 a.m.: Plano West vs. Arlington Heights

11:30 a.m.: Arlington Martin vs. No. 12 Richardson Berkner

1:00 p.m.: No. 16 Garland Naaman Forest vs. No. 9 Richland

2:30 p.m.: No. 11 Coppell vs. No. 2 DeSoto

4:00 p.m.: Klein Forest vs. No. 6 North Crowley

5:30 p.m.: Milwaukee King vs. Duncanville

7:00 p.m.: Northwest vs. No. 1 Flower Mound Marcus

8:30 p.m.: Little Rock Parkview vs. L.D. Bell

District 4-5A football season preview

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
12:01
AM CT
DISTRICT 4-5A
  • Arlington (7-4, 5-2), lost in DII bi-district. Coach: Scott Peach.
  • Arlington Bowie (7-4, 6-1), lost in DI bi-district. Coach: Kenny Perry.
  • Arlington Lamar (5-6, 4-3), lost in DII bi-district. Coach: Trent Fuller.
  • Arlington Martin (10-3, 7-0), lost in DI regional semifinal. Coach: Bob Wager.
  • Arlington Sam Houston (4-6, 3-4). Coach: Anthony Criss.
  • Fort Worth Paschal (1-9, 0-7). Coach: Matt Cook.
  • North Crowley (2-8, 2-5). Coach: Keeath Magee.
  • Weatherford (1-9, 1-6). Coach: Reid Waller.
THE BIG QUESTION: Is Martin poised to become the bully of the block after defeating Bowie on the way to the District 4-5A title in 2010?

Bob Wager’s Warriors have advanced to the third round of the playoffs in consecutive seasons, something never before accomplished at Martin.

Quarterback Brodie Lambert was named MVP in Martin’s Red Bull Game Breakers 7-on-7 national championship during the summer. There is quality in the eight returning starters on defense, including college commits Devonte Fields (TCU), Stephen Amoako and Eric Amoako (Oregon).

Arlington ISD rivals Bowie and Arlington High aren’t going to concede the title to Martin. Bowie returns experience at key spots and has advanced to the playoffs in all five seasons under coach Kenny Perry.

Arlington Lamar could figure into the mix after making the playoffs in its first season under a coach not named Eddy Peach.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

DE Devonte Fields, LB Cameron Williams, OL Steven Baggett, DB Eric Amoako, DB Stephen Amoako, Arlington Martin; QB/WR Kolby Listenbee, LB Jaquirous Jackson, DT Demonte Hood, RB Russell Hansbrough, Arlington Bowie; RB Tavarreon Dickerson, OL Daniil Lysenko, LB Curtis Douglas, Arlington; SS Paris Watson, LB Deandre Wilson, QB Connor Berry, Arlington Lamar; WR Xavier Mathews, North Crowley; WR Terrell Varnes, Arlington Sam Houston; QB Chris Hanson, Fort Worth Paschal; QB Trooper Reynolds, Weatherford.

DID YOU KNOW?

Four of the last five Martin seasons have ended with a playoff loss to Euless Trinity. ... After going young in 2010, Arlington returns 19 starters. ... Second division finishers North Crowley, Arlington Sam Houston, Fort Worth Paschal and Weatherford won a total of eight games among them.

PROJECTED PLAYOFF TEAMS
  1. Arlington Martin
  2. Arlington Bowie
  3. Arlington
  4. Arlington Lamar

FM Marcus advances with Luckey on its side

March, 4, 2011
3/04/11
9:09
PM CT
FORT WORTH, Texas --A.J. Luckey’s contributions may occasionally be overlooked by the legion of Flower Mound Marcus fans, but not by teammates and coaching staff.

The six-foot junior guard’s lockdown defensive performance on Providence College signee Kyan Anderson helped Marcus defeat North Crowley 49-43 in a Class 5A Region I semifinal Friday night at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.

“A.J. usually guards the other team’s best player,’’ Marcus coach Danny Henderson pointed out afterward. “He doesn’t get a lot of accolades, but we know how valuable he is.’’

Anderson, North Crowley’s leading scorer this season averaging 14.1 points and a 3-pointer per game, was held scoreless in the first half and finished with just six points on 3-of-11 shooting. He missed his only 3-point attempt.

“I just tried to stay in front of him and keep him from getting past me,’’ Luckey said.

Simple enough, but easier said than done.

Although Luckey scored only seven points, two of his baskets came in the fourth quarter, each with the score tied. He finished 3-of-4 from the field and contributed seven rebounds.

Marcus (35-1) will return to the state tournament for the second straight season with a win in Saturday’s Region I title game, scheduled for 1 p.m. at Wilkerson-Greines.

The Marauders trailed 26-25, at halftime and the break couldn’t have come at a better time. Marcus scored only five points in the second quarter and missed seven of nine shots.

“We were able to get our kids calmed down and that was key,’’ Henderson said. “North Crowley has the ability to rattle any set of guards. They’re really good at creating chaos.’’

After tying the score at 39 with five minutes remaining, North Crowley (31-6) went scoreless for almost a full four minutes with Anderson and Deshaun Phenix each missing a pair of shots.

Marcus Smart (13 points, seven rebounds) and Nick Banyard had baskets to stretch Marcus’ lead to six. Free throws by Phil Forte (12 points) finished the job.

North Crowley was led by Terrance Syon’s 15 points and eight rebounds.

“We didn’t get to the free throw line once in the second half,” said North Crowley coach Tommy Brakel. “We must’ve settled for a lot of perimeter shots, and that’s not what we do. We get to the line, and get to the basket.”

Irv. MacArthur girls advance to region final

February, 25, 2011
2/25/11
8:57
PM CT
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Class 5A Region I semifinal victory was tucked away when Alexis Jones finally missed a free throw, ending a streak of 17 in a row.

As winning teams can afford to do, Jones’ Irving MacArthur teammates didn’t let the miss go by without a few good-natured jibes.

“They were saying, ‘Come on, Lex!’’’ said Jones, imitating the mock-disgusting tone.

Jones scored 35 points to lead the Lady Cardinals’ 68-55 win over North Crowley on Friday evening at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.

She finished 20-of-23 on free throws, helping MacArthur (34-2) reach the Region I finals for the second straight year.

“Alexis is a very, very special player,’’ MacArthur coach Suzie Oelschlegel said. “Guards are supposed to be able to penetrate and dish, but she does it in a very special way.’’

Jones didn’t begin to wear out a path to the foul line until the second period, when she converted eight. She made two in the third and seven more in the fourth quarter before finally missing with 2:16 remaining and the Lady Cardinals holding a 10-point lead.

“Free throws weren’t my plan,’’ Jones said. “My plan was to drive and kick and get my wings involved, but I kept getting fouled when I penetrated on the drives.’’

Chelsea Jennings scored 12 of her 17 points in the third quarter to help North Crowley (35-3) close an 11-point intermission gap. The Lady Panthers’ surge was aided by a 13-3 rebound edge in the third quarter, but they would never got closer than six points.

Natalie Ventress led the Lady Panthers with 24 points.

For MacArthur, Khoria Newman (16 points) and Ayriel Anderson (11) were a combined 5-of-8 on 3-pointers.

“The great thing about this team is the way they play together,’’ Oelschlegel said. “We have good backups and we believe in each other.’’

Jones helps MacArthur girls thump Plano West

February, 22, 2011
2/22/11
9:56
PM CT
CARROLLTON, Texas -- Alexis Jones draws all eyes when she has the ball in her hands.

Fans stay glued to her 5-foot-9 frame in hopes of seeing another highlight, while opponents constantly follow her on the court -- sometimes ill advisedly.

On Tuesday, everyone watched the junior make a state-ranked Plano West team look ordinary as Jones scored 35 in MacArthur's 71-58 win in the Class 5A Region I quarterfinals at Carrollton Creekview High School.

MacArthur advances to play North Crowley to open the Region I tournament at 6 p.m. on Friday at Fort Worth ISD's Wilkerson-Grines Activity Center.

"As a team, we're very solid, and we have to take advantage of every opportunity that we get," said MacArthur head coach Suzie Oelschlegel.

Jones, ranked No. 4 in the nation by ESPN in the class of 2012, added eight rebounds and eight assists to her impressive stat line, and her hot hand in the fourth quarter helped MacArthur seal the win after Plano West gained some momentum.

MacArthur (33-2) led by as many as 17 in the third quarter but Plano West (28-7) used a 9-0 run that extended into the fourth quarter to cut its deficit to just six points.

"We were playing lazy defense [in the third quarter]," Jones said "We just needed to get it together."

But Jones, who said she suffered her first cramp of the season in third quarter, found her game after a MacArthur timeout, scoring 15 of her team's 21 points in the final frame.

"That fourth quarter there toward the end, we finished strong," Oelschlegel said.

MacArthur ended the regular season ranked No. 2 in the ESPNDallas.com Class 5A area poll, and Plano West was No. 6.

The attention Jones garners also benefits her teammates. With opponents so fixated on her whereabouts, MacArthur attackers are often left unguarded and open for an easy assist.

Senior post Karmyn Jackson is the perfect example. When Jones charges the rim, defenders collapse around her, leaving Jackson alone in the paint. Jackson scored 14 points.

Plano West looked lost to open the game as MacArthur jumped out to an 18-6 lead in the first quarter, but the Lady Wolves recommitted to an aggressive defensive style that helped them keep the game in reach.

MacArthur's lead shrunk to five points in the opening seconds of the second quarter and held steady at six before the Lady Cardinals outscored Plano West 15-5 to close the half.

Chillin' time almost over for basketball teams?

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
5:09
PM CT
The delay game that high school basketball teams find themselves playing this week is about icy roads, not icing a victory.

And as frustrating as a cycle of postponing and rescheduling has been the last three days, there are hopes that schools will reopen Friday and the regular schedule of evening games can resume.

For most of the area teams, it will mean a busy weekend with Saturday used as a makeup day for the game lost earlier in the week.

If Friday games are cancelled, officials still hope to use Saturday as a makeup day for Feb. 1 games and then possibly go to Monday for the games scheduled for Friday.

“I love the routine of Tuesday-Friday games, and I felt like we were in a good groove when this happened,’’ North Crowley boys coach Tommy Brakel said. “We had done our work to get ready for a home game Tuesday against Arlington Bowie, the second-place team in our district. We couldn’t play. Now we are looking at playing Arlington Martin with no preparation time.’’

Most area schools were closed for the third straight day Thursday. The mood of the players has changed.

Said Frisco Wakeland coach Darilyn Krempin: “The first day they’re like, ‘Yay no school!’ Then the second and the third day rolls around and they’re like ‘You’re kidding. Enough is enough.' I think they’re getting bored. They’re ready to get back to school.’’

Wakeland (30-2) is No. 1 in ESPNDallas.com Class 4A Girls Top 10.

The girls teams have a greater sense of urgency because their regular season concludes a week earlier than the boys. Playoff certification deadline is Feb. 12.

“I’m really not frustrated because we’re all in the same boat together,’’ said Suzie Oelschlegel, coach of District 6-5A girls leader Irving MacArthur (No. 2 in 5A).

When games do resume, coaches are concerned lost practice time could affect players’ conditioning.

"I told them to run up and down the stairs at their house,’’ Krempin said. “Do push-ups. Do ball-handling. Do something."

North Crowley, No. 5 in ESPNDallas.com Class 5A Top 10, last practiced on Monday and has been off four of the last five days.

“It is almost like coming back from the Christmas break,’’ Brakel said.

UPDATE: Friday games have been cancelled.

North Crowley hands Bowie rare home loss

January, 7, 2011
1/07/11
11:43
PM CT
ARLINGTON -- Even with a key contributor sidelined by injury, North Crowley was able to become the first boys basketball team to win on Arlington Bowie’s home floor in two years on Friday.

Sparked by a 17-point performance by guard Taylor Luster, North Crowley jumped to a big lead early and managed to hold off the persevering Volunteers, 62-57, in a battle for a share of first place in District 4-5A.

North Crowley, No. 7 in the ESPNDallas.com area 5A top 10, played without senior point guard Kyan Anderson (thumb injury), a signee of Providence College.

Terrance Syon, a 6-6 senior forward, managed to play on a high-ankle sprain, but could barely hide a limp at times.

Even Luster had to leave in the crucial final minutes with leg cramps.

Bad luck?

“Well, it is our 13th season since the school opened,’’ said North Crowley coach Tommy Brakel, “but I sure hope we’re not jinxed.

“What I liked most was our resilience,’’ the coach added. “We had every reason to shrug our shoulders against a team that is as good as anybody in the region. Coming here and winning is not easy.’’

The Panthers (17-5, 3-0) led by 16 points in the early moments of the second period, but Bowie (13-8, 2-1) was not going to see its home court streak end quietly.

The Volunteers chipped away and until taking their only lead, 44-43, late in the third period on a fast break basket by senior guard D’Von Campbell.

North Crowley’s Deshaun Phenix answered with a 3-pointer to give the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish.

The Bowie deficit fluctuated between seven and three points in the fourth quarter. Down by four, the Vols failed to secure a defensive rebound on three straight North Crowley missed free throws in the final minute.

“I liked our effort,’’ said Bowie coach Allen Gratts, “but we made a lot of mental mistakes down the stretch, including not boxing out on free throws. Against a team like North Crowley, playing hard isn’t enough. You’ve got to play hard and play well.’’

Dean Willis, a 5-9 guard, led Bowie with 16 points. Backcourt mate Campbell and 6-4 forward Brandon Webb each scored 14.

Bowie’s Christian Jones finished with a loud nine points, which included four slam dunks.

“I knew it was going to be a game of runs,’’ Brakel said. “Bowie will make runs at you. The key is to not turn the ball over and have good shot selection.’’

And injuries are no excuse.

Said Brakel: “We’ve had some great players in the past, but this team is never about one person. It is about what we can do as a team.’’

*North Crowley’s girls team moved into first place in District 4-5A with a convincing 57-42 win over Bowie in the preliminary game.

TCU signee Natalie Ventress, a 5-10 guard, scored 24 points and junior guard Chelsea Jennings had 19 for the Lady Panthers (21-3, 5-0.) North Crowley is No. 3 in the ESPNDallas.com 5A area top 10.

Bowie (17-7, 4-1) was led by Khala Riley with 10 points.

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