High-SchoolTexas: Flower Mound Marcus

After games on Sunday, March 4.

After jockeying for position in the POWERADE FAB 50 and splitting their two regular-season meetings (and sharing a nickname in the "Lions"), Grace Prep and Prestonwood Christian both were able to end the season on a good note.

Julius Randle scored 26 points to help Prestonwood Christian capture the TAPPS Class 5A crown, its second in three years. Meanwhile, Grace Prep got big games from Jordan Mickey (21 points), Emmanuel Mudiay (20 points) and Isaiah Austin (12 points, 10 rebounds) to win their second straight Class 4A title.

On the UIL scene, the final four for Class 4A and 5A are set and many of the usual suspects are involved. In 5A, there's defending champ Marcus, which survived an upset bid by South Grand Prairie, thanks to a last-second block by Marcus Smart. The victory keeps alive a potential matchup with the Harrison twins and Fort Bend Travis in the final.

In 4A, Kimball and Yates, the defending champs from the last two years, enter the final four on different sides of the bracket. Yates continues to rack up 100+ point-games while Kimball has momentum after beating a South Oak Cliff team that it lost to twice this season.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Marcus (Flower Mound) 37-2 (1)
Marcus Smart scored 19 points and blocked a potential game-tying shot in the Marauders 39-38 win against South Grand Prairie. The defending Class 5A champs will face Naaman Forest in Friday's semifinals.

2. Prestonwood Christian (Plano) 27-4 (2)
Julius Randle tallied 26 points and 10 boards to lead the Lions past John Paul II in the TAPPS Class 5A final.

3. Grace Prep (Arlington) 27-4 (3)
Grace Prep easily beat Westbury Christian behind Jordan Mickey's 21 points, Emmanuel Mudiay's 20 points and Isaiah Austin's double-double (12 points, 10 boards) to win a second straight TAPPS Class 4A crown.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas basketball rankings.

Texas Week 12 hoops rankings: State playoffs heating up

February, 28, 2012
After games on Sunday, Feb. 26.

The Texas basketball playoffs are quite the marathon, making for salivating matchups and surprising upsets. This week could bring both.

Marcus, the No. 5 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, appears poised to defend its crown, but in doing so, the Marauders face a potential Class 5A regional semifinal matchup against No. 7 North Crowley if they can hold off Timberview on Tuesday. Likewise, red-hot Fort Bend Travis will be tested when it faces newly ranked Northshore on Tuesday in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

On the private-school scene, Grace Prep and Westbury Christian appear to be on a crash course in the TAPPS Class 4A final this Saturday should they both win their semifinal matchups as expected.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Marcus (Flower Mound) 34-2 (1)
The Marauders jumped out to an 18-0 lead and Phil Forte finished with 16 points to lead them past Duncanville and into the Class 5A regional quarterfinals for a contest against Timberview on Tuesday.

2. Prestonwood Christian (Plano) 25-4 (2)
Freshman Mickey Mitchell dropped 29 points to go with Julius Randle's 20 in the Lions' 83-64 win against Central Catholic to advance to the TAPPS Class 5A semifinals, where they will face St. Thomas (Houston).

3. Grace Prep (Arlington) 25-4 (3)
Grace Prep bounced Concordia from the TAPPS 4A playoffs with a 77-52 win. Next the Lions will face San Antonio Christian in the semis and should they win, will likely take on fellow POWERADE FAB 50 squad Westbury Christian in the final.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas hoops rankings.

Nos. 1 and 2 fall in Friday night showdowns

February, 11, 2012
POWERADE FAB 50 No. 1 Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas) and No. 2 Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas) entered Friday night's matches with perfect records. However, by night's end neither were alone in first place in their districts.

Carroll lost to No. 11 Coppell (Texas) 1-0 while Nicole Smith's two goals carried No. 12 Plano West (Plano, Texas) over Marcus 2-1. The results will mean a new POWERADE FAB 50 No. 1 team when the next rankings are released Tuesday.

Texas hoops rankings remain steady as big games loom

December, 14, 2011

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Shootouts are often associated with Texas and the wild West, so with the major slate of games on the horizon for several Lone Star State teams, several old-fashioned shootouts could be in the cards.

If you love Texas basketball, you'd better be tuned in Thursday night. At 6 p.m on ESPNU, No. 2 Grace Prep takes on No. 6 Prestonwood Christian. Both could use a momentum boost with the City of Palms coming up and both could use the game film since a rematch at the prestigious Florida tournament could occur.

At 8:30 p.m. on ESPN, No. 11 Flower Mound Marcus looks to gain its first major national victory against Maryland's Montrose Christian, which is ranked fourth in the POWERADE FAB 50.

So check out this week's rankings during the calm before the shootout (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Flower Mound Marcus 13-1 (1)
The Marauders have won four straight entering Thursday's huge televised matchup against national No. 4 Montrose Christian (Md.) on ESPN at 8:30 p.m.

2. Grace Prep (Arlington) 7-1 (2)
The Lions fell to national No. 3 Oak Hill (Va.) despite 18 points and 13 boards from Isaiah Austin. The road doesn't get any easier as they face No. 6 Prestonwood Christian (7 p.m. Thursday on ESPNU) and then travel to Florida for the tough City of Palms.

3. Westbury Christian (Houston) 8-0 (3)
Remained undefeated with 22-point win against Channelview.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas basketball rankings

Five days of List-Mas: Texas' A-list

December, 12, 2011

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: A-Listers

In the NFL, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are A-Listers. In the NBA, it’s LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. But who are the A-Listers in Texas? That’s where today’s list comes in. Regardless of sport, here’s our list of the top five A-List athletes in the state. Can you think of an A-Lister we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.

5. Daniel Vertiz (SR), S.A. Reagan, Cross Country
Credentials: NXN runner-up, fifth at Foot Locker Nationals, second at 5A state meet

4. Marcus Smart (SR), Flower Mound Marcus, Basketball
Credentials: Oklahoma State recruit, nation's No. 11 player in ESPNU 100, reigning Gatorade State Player of the Year, led Marauders to Class 5A state title, adidas Super 64 MVP

3. Julius Randle (JR), Prestonwood Christian, Basketball
Credentials: Nation's No. 3 player in ESPNU 60, 2011 Elite 24 participant, tweeted by Kevin Durant

2. Mario Edwards Jr. (SR), Denton Ryan, Football
Credentials: Nation's No. 1 player in ESPNU 150, Florida State commit, 2010 Class 4A Defensive POY

1. Johnathan Gray (SR), Aledo, Football
Credentials: Texas recruit, No. 5 player in ESPNU 150, two-time Gatorade State POY, 2011 Gatorade National POY, 2010 Mr. Football USA, two-time Class 4A, Division II champion, nation's all-time career TD co-leader, state record holder in carries, touchdowns, points, 100-yard games and single-season rushing touchdowns

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter@brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Week 9 Texas football rankings stand pat as Allen survives another scare

October, 24, 2011
Results as of Sunday, October 23

It has been a perilous three weeks for No. 1 Allen. The Eagles (8-0) have trailed in three consecutive games, but somehow found ways to remain unbeaten thanks to clutch comebacks. Allen couldn’t have cut it much closer than in its latest victory, 38-35 over 7-1 Marcus (Flower Mound) on Friday. With eight seconds on the clock, Eagles quarterback Alec Morris threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Oliver Pierce for the winning score.

Although it hasn’t cost Allen yet, opponents are averaging 34 points a game over the last three games, a number the Eagles need to lower come playoff time. With one slip by Allen, No. 2 Katy is poised to take over the top spot. The Tigers (8-0) have outscored opponents, 350-30. Seven points is the most surrendered by Katy in a game this season. Allen could have its hands full again on Friday when it goes on the road to play another strong District 8-5A team, 6-2 Hebron (Carrollton) at Hawks Stadium.

Allen-Marcus was one of three district showdowns matching top 25 ranked teams last weekend. In the San Antonio area, No. 7 Steele (Cibolo) prevailed over No. 23 Judson (Converse) 34-20 and in North Texas, No. 24 Cedar Hill held off No. 25 Mansfield, 42-34.

Nationally, Steele moved up one spot to No. 38 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here's this week's top 25 (Last week's ranking in parentheses):

1. Allen 8-0 (1)
The Eagles used only 90 seconds on their winning drive that ended in a 16-yard Alec Morris to Oliver Pierce touchdown pass with eight seconds remaining for a 38-35 win over 7-1 Marcus (Flower Mound). Morris, an Alabama commit, threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns. Allen visits 6-2 Hebron (Carrollton) on Friday.

2. Katy 8-0 (2)
Freshman Rodney Anderson rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Brooks Haack threw for two scores in the Tigers' 45-0 rout of 5-3 Memorial (Houston). On Saturday, the Tigers face 1-7 Taylor (Katy).

3. Euless Trinity 9-0 (3)
Trinity's defense limited 4-4 Grapevine to 156 total yards in a 38-0 whitewash, its third shutout of the season and its 26th consecutive regular season victory. The Trojans, open this week, close the regular season on the road against MacArthur (Irving) on Nov. 3.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas football rankings

Guyer upset of Coppell jumpstarts Week 5 Texas football

September, 30, 2011
In a matchup of highly ranked teams, No. 20 Denton Guyer made a huge statement Thursday with a 31-7 win against previously undefeated and No. 6 Coppell. After allowing the game's first score, the Wildcats could not be stopped, scoring 31 unanswered points behind quarterback Jerrod Heard's four touchdowns. The outcome marked the Cowboys' first loss in 21 games and avenges Guyer's 31-14 defeat at the hands of Coppell last year.

A couple more juicy matchups are on slate this weekend. Tonight, there's the rivalry game between high-powered offenses of Flower Mound and Flower Mound Marcus, (I'm picking Marcus in a 50-42 shootout win) as well as...

Mesquite Poteet (5-0) at Corsicana (5-0)
The District 15-4A title will likely be decided tonight as these undefeated squads face off after winning their first three district contests. Mesquite Poteet, which reached the Class 4A, Division II semifinals last year after winning one game the previous two seasons, has shown that 2010 wasn't a fluke. Quarterback Tanner Ramsey (1,087 passing yards, 10 scores and one pick) and tailback Steven Hicks (320 yards, five scores) have been key for a Pirates offense averaging over 46 points per game. Corsicana has weapons of its own, though, in Cameron Washington, who has already broken the 1,000-yard barrier. Whichever running game excels should be key to the outcome.
My Pick: Mesquite Poteet 31, Corsicana 24

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Smart, Forte commit to Oklahoma State

September, 10, 2011
Oklahoma State pulled a double heist on the basketball recruiting scene, securing commitments from Marcus duo Marcus Smart and Philip Forte on Friday.

Both posted the news on their Facebook pages, just a day after visiting the Stillwater campus and manning the sidelines during Thursday's Oklahoma State-Arizona football game.

The past year has been kind to Smart and Forte, who led Marcus to the Class 5A state title and adidas Super 64 tournament championship. Smart earned MVP honors in both triumphs, averaging 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Marauders. The senior was also named Gatorade State Player of the Year and 11th in the ESPNU 100 rankings. Forte did his damage from long-range, putting up 17 points per contest while hitting 120 3-pointers.

This marks the second year that Oklahoma State has snagged a big name from Texas. Lincoln alum and ESPNHS cover boy LeBryan Nash is a freshman with the Cowboys.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.