The district boys basketball championship may be up for grabs this season, and a Keller Fossil Ridge senior is ready to lay claim to the spot.
Keylan McNeil has had to step up as a team leader this year and he’s also ready to bring his team along as District 3-6A’s best.
Early on, Ridge has beaten defending district champ Keller, but lost to a surprising Haltom squad 54-52. The loss came down to the last play.
But like McNeil, the Panthers are ready to move on and look ahead.
“If we come together as a team, we can win the rest of district,” McNeil said.
And he’s doing his part to try and make that all happen.
Last year, I wasn’t as hungry to win, but now I’m very passionate about basketball.
McNeil is close to improving on his 17 points per game scoring average from last year, and he’s hit a season-best 26 points in a game.
He’s not solely focused on scoring, though.
“My goals are to do whatever it takes to help my team win. Whether that mean rebounding, scoring or anything else,” McNeil said.
What head coach Zack Myers has asked of McNeil is to take the step up as a team leader.
That was initially a tall task for the 6-4, 185-pound forward/post.
He admits he’s normally the quiet type and taking on more of a leadership role pushed him outside his comfort zone.
“I usually just do my own thing,” he said. “But I got used to it. I now can bring energy to the team and fire them up.”
Along the way, McNeil is being a team player by assuming much of the post responsibilities for the Panthers. He sees himself more as a forward, though, as he’s been improving on his mid-range shot.
McNeil has also improved on his defensive game. He said the bulk of that is due to his mindset to get a stop, though.
The aggressive style of play which McNeil brings to the court for the Panthers is also something which is a step up from his game last season.
“I’m more disciplined and I involve my teammates more and more,” he said. “Last year, I wasn’t as hungry to win, but now I’m very passionate about basketball.”
Those improvements in his game have McNeil on the radar at a handful of schools where he could continue playing at the next level after this year.
Fossil Ridge is looking to return to the playoffs this year after finishing second in district and then bowing out in the bi-district round to Arlington Bowie.