Trophy Club Nelson coach Scott Curran wasn't quite sure what kind of team he had on his hands at the outset of the season.
He knew he had a star in returning District 5-4A MVP Keyunta Watkins, but after him was a group of newcomers who hadn't proven themselves. The picture has become clear for the Bobcats, who through just over 20 games look like a state power.
Nelson (18-3 overall) is riding a 11-game win streak, has moved up to No. 14 in the Class 4A state rankings and, with a 4-0 start, is on track to defend its 5-4A title.
"I think the team's really starting to jell together right now at the right time," Curran said. "They genuinely care about one another, they play for each other and it means a lot to them. I think winning the district championship last year gave them a taste of success and I think we're hungry after going out in the first round last year."
It all starts with Watkins, a 5-foot-8 point guard who not only stuffs the stat sheet with 20 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.2 steals per game, but is the heart and soul of the Bobcats off the court.
"He's a leader, he gets our other kids involved and as he goes we go," Curran said. "He's the ultimate team player and he cares about his teammates. He's a winner, he cares about one thing and that's winning and doing his teammates the right way and that's what makes him so special."
The Bobcats also have received a jolt from 6-6 sophomore forward Emmanuel Nzekwesi, who looks like a good bet for 5-4A Newcomer of the Year with 14 points and eight rebounds per contest.
"Emmanuel's been very active for us in the paint," Curran said. "I think he's just going to get better as the season goes on. He plays with a lot of energy and has had some really big games for us in district."
Next up for Nelson is a road game against District 5-4A foe White Settlement Brewer (11-12, 3-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Saginaw Rough Riders (14-7, 5-2) find themselves right in the mix of the District 6-4A title chase, but could just as easily be staring at a 3-4 hole, if not for a pair of 1-point victories.
The Rough Riders first held off a fourth-quarter rally by Fort Worth Dunbar (11-9, 6-1) on Friday to prevail 69-68 behind 22 points from Dominique Johnson, who hit a step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer for the win.
"It was wild. It was a great environment," Saginaw coach Brent Craft said.
"It was a huge win for us and the kids went nuts."
Most recently, Saginaw withstood a late run by Fort Worth Carter-Riverside (3-13, 2-5) on Tuesday en route to a 46-45 win behind Cameron Atkinson's 20 points.
"It's important for us to get rolling. It's a wide-open district. Any of these teams can beat you on any given night and you have to show up to play," Craft said.
The Rough Riders host Fort Worth North Side (0-14, 0-7) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Alvarado (11-12) junior forward Xavier Adams has turned in the most impressive individual season of any player in the area.
Adams, a 6-5 forward, leads the area in scoring (26.1 points per game) and rebounding (14.1 per game) and is in the top ten in steals (2.6) and blocks (2.5). He also averages 2.8 assist a contest.
Adams most recently turned in a ho-hum performance of 16 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks Monday in a 52-47 win at Bridgeport.
The Indians open District 7-3A play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hillsboro.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760
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