We’re still in that crossover period where fall sports are ending and winter sports are beginning. Plus, the high school football playoffs keep moving forward.
So in this space, we provide some of the snapshot things to look for in the boys basketball season that starts Monday.
▪ Northeast Tarrant County features two national recruits in Keller senior guard R.J. Nembhard (signed with TCU) and Richland guard C.J. Roberts (signed with Missouri), who will put their teams on their backs and try and make as deep a postseason run as they possibly can. Keller should be the favorite in District 3-6A. Richland, which is dropping down from 6A to 5A, should be the favorite in 8-5A. However, it will be challenged by traditional basketball power Fort Worth Dunbar. Those district games in January should be exceptional.
▪ Following its 6A regional quarterfinal appearance in 2015-2016, Justin Northwest moves down to Class 5A with a pretty interesting team led by sophomore guard Avery Anderson. The Texans appear to be loaded.
▪ Northwest Byron Nelson plays in a district (5-6A) where no one program leads the way. Flower Mound Marcus isn’t the program it once was.
▪ Colleyville Heritage is also a newbie to 5A basketball as it joins Grapevine in 8-5A. The Panthers are looking for some success.
Lest we forget, our congratulations go out to the Keller girls cross country program which claimed the Class 6A state championship this past Saturday in Round Rock. Also, we extend our best to the Carroll boys and girls teams as well as the Grapevine girls and boys teams and Justin Northwest boys team who competed.
Now, let’s return to the picks. For NET teams, the 2016 playoff season is already proving to be a success. In the past, we’ve witnessed a lot of area teams exit after the bi-district round, leaving only Carroll and perhaps one or two others.
This year, we still have six teams playing: Carroll, Colleyville Heritage, Grapevine, Keller Timber Creek, Justin Northwest and Richland. We know we’ll have at least one area team playing Thanksgiving weekend, because Colleyville Heritage meets Northwest.
Several of those needed late heroics to do it. Northwest picks up its first postseason win in school history as it scored in the final seconds to win at Denton, 31-29. Keller Timber Creek won a shootout over Arlington Martin, 54-51, with a touchdown midway through the fourth. Richland rallied from a 35-21 deficit at the half and defeated Fort Worth South Hills, 42-35.
You’re not looking for style points in the postseason. You’re looking to survive and advance. For the first week of the postseason, we nearly read it all right. We missed on Keller Central (lost) and Timber Creek (won).
Dreams have ended for Central, Keller Fossil Ridge, Northwest Byron Nelson and Euless Trinity. But hope for 2017 begins with the offseason.
So let’s take a look at these games. This is an amazing card for the area round.
Last week: 8-2
Season: 105-25 (.808)
Aledo (11-0) vs. Grapevine (10-1); 7 p.m. Friday, Rough Rider Stadium, Saginaw; Class 5A Division II Region I: This is a game where these teams mirror each other. Grapevine’s front seven should be the best Aledo has seen all season. The GHS secondary has seen enough passing attacks from Richland and Colleyville Heritage, so it should be ready for Aledo’s vertical assault. You can figure that 5-6 plays are going to swing this. But remember, we’ve missed on Grapevine’s big games. We picked the Mustangs to lose to Abilene Cooper. We picked them to beat Richland. We picked them to lose to Colleyville Heritage. What do we know?
Prediction: Aledo 44, Grapevine 43
San Angelo Central (11-0) at Keller Fossil Ridge (7-4); 7 p.m. Friday, Keller ISD Athletic Complex, Keller; Class 6A Division I Region I: The state’s No. 7 team comes to town because Timber Creek coach Kevin Golden won the flip. But the Bobcats road show is impressive. No one has been able to stop them as they are averaging 53 points per game. The Falcons’ offense will score. But they are going to need some major breaks to pull this off.
Prediction: San Angelo Central 55, Keller Timber Creek 35
Denton Ryan (11-0) vs. Richland (10-1); 7 p.m. Friday, Northwest ISD Stadium, Justin; Class 5A Division I Region I: The Rebels found that inner strength to come back against a solid Fort Worth South Hills team and win, 42-35. Ryan, coached by former Grapevine boss Dave Henigan, will be the best team the Rebels will face. Richland can stay with the Raiders. But this group has to play a perfect game.
Prediction: Denton Ryan 38, Richland 28
Carroll (10-1) vs. DeSoto (11-0); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Clark Field, Plano; Class 6A Division II Region I: The Dragons were not sharp but they weren’t threatened, either, by Wylie in a 28-3 win. They’ll need to be better against the always athletic Eagles. This is where scheme and execution must prove to be the difference. The Dragons can win this. But DeSoto has Denton Guyer transfer QB Shawn Robinson and a lethal passing game that’s going to stress the Dragons.
Prediction: DeSoto 43, Carroll 38
Colleyville Heritage (8-3) vs. Justin Northwest (10-1); 2 p.m. Saturday, The Star, Frisco; Class 5A Division I Region I: A great experience for these teams to play in the Dallas Cowboys’ training center. Like the other game, this is about great offenses. Northwest has one of the best wide receivers in Texas in Gavin Holmes. Colleyville Heritage hasn’t been at full strength without receiver Ke’Von Ahmad. It remains to be seen if he can play. Fresh from their first playoff win in school history, I think the Texans may be a little more balanced.
Prediction: Justin Northwest 37, Colleyville Heritage 30