Recognize Greater Houston

Updated: November 20, 2008, 4:16 PM ET
ESPNRISE.com

Boys' Basketball - Strake Jesuit



As a private school competing in the U.I.L.'s highest classification, Strake Jesuit is unique in many ways. Boys' basketball coach Wayne Jones embraces that status and challenges his players to go beyond the norm whenever possible. From teaching the dribble-drive motion offense Memphis has perfected under John Calipari to integrating European styles of play, Jones uses a one-of-a-kind approach. "We try to teach the entire game of basketball,"Jones says. "Guys don't learn to play a position, they learn to play the game. And then they can go on and play any position in any style."That philosophy is beginning to pay dividends. Strake Jesuit has been on the rise ever since joining the U.I.L. six years ago. After qualifying for the postseason for the first time in 2006-07, the team won its first-ever playoff game last year. That success should continue this season as the Crusaders boast a trio of big-time seniors. Notre Damebound forward Joey Brooks returns after averaging 20 points per game last season. Penn State-bound Tim Frazier and Rice-bound Steven Rogers share point guard duties. Frazier is a lightning bolt on the court, and Jones calls him the team's fiercest competitor. Rogers is looking to make up for lost time after missing a year and a half with two knee injuries. Seniors Wes Williams and Ryan Dunbar both have good size and are capable of battling down low or shooting from the perimeter.



Girls' + Boys' Tennis - Clear Lake


After a 13-year absence, the Falcons reclaimed the top spot in Region III-5A team tennis this fall. Clear Lake last won the regional title in 1994, and every year since then the championship had gone to Katy Taylor. But the Falcons were the better team this fall, toppling Katy Taylor, 10-7, in the regional semis before defeating Cinco Ranch in the finals, 10-6. Clear Lake then shocked Plano West in the Class 5A state semis, 10-8, before falling to New Braunfels in the championship match.



Boys' Soccer - Brenham


A surprising run to the Class 4A state championship game last season with just one senior in the starting lineup means expectations will be sky high for the Cubs this year. Brenham brings back an explosive offense, led by senior forward Estarlin Pereira-Celis, who set a school record with 28 assists last year. Senior midfielder Will Betts tallied 14 goals and eight assists. Add in senior goalkeeper Cameron Wren and senior defender Chase Michalak and Brenham is stocked with talent from one end of the field to the other.



Field Hockey - St. John's


Entering the Division I SPC tournament in the fall, St. John's had already put together a terrific 10-3 season. But the Mavericks clearly saved their best for last. The team went 3-0 during the SPC tourney to win its first conference championship in 27 years. St. John's opened the tournament with shutout victories over Greenhill and Casady to advance to the finals. There, the Mavericks prevailed over Hockaday, 1- 0, in a shootout.



BREAK OUT TEAMS



BOYS' BASKETBALL  JONES
Senior Texas A&M recruit Ray Turner is one of the area's most versatile players.

GIRLS' SOCCER  CY WOODS
Seniors Alyssa Cowie and Kelsey Schad anchor the Wildcats' stellar defensive unit.

BOYS' SWIMMING  FOSTER
Led by senior Matt Tomas, the Falcons have the relay depth to do some damage in the postseason.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL  ST. AGNES
TAPPS Class 6A state finalists return junior sensation Chelsea Bass.