Northeast Tarrant

Saluting the standouts of the basketball season

The high school basketball season finished this past weekend. North Texas’ stranglehold continued as Dallas Kimball (Class 4A), Dallas Madison (3A) and Ponder (2A) each claimed state titles.

Unfortunately, the 5A Region I representative in DeSoto lost in the semifinals to eventual champ Galena Park North Shore.

But the ending of the season allows us to name our boys and girls coaches of the year and players of the year.

Girls Player of the Year – Kennedy Leonard, Carroll, G, Jr.

If you want a player with a high basketball IQ, a pretty solid defender and a quality shooter, then you don’t have anyone better than Leonard. It’s one thing to average 13.0 points per game like Leonard. It’s another to have 8.4 assists per game.

Think about that. Leonard was a part of at least 29 points per game. That’s if you accept the premise that all of her assists led to two-point baskets. Of course, that’s probably not true. So figure, she was a part of about 22 points per game.

What Leonard did was keep everybody moving in the offense and creating mismatches as Carroll went 29-5, went 14-0 in District 4-5A and helped her team to the Class 5A Region I quarterfinals. Offensively, her jumper improved. That all adds up to her verbally committing to Colorado.

Girls Coach of the Year – Teri Morrison, Carroll

Had Justin Northwest’s Rusty Johnson pulled off the miracle of at least getting the Lady Texans into a 4-5A playoff play-in game, he would have been the shoo-in for this. Still, this was a tough call, because he brought that program back from the abyss of a two-win season to 13 wins and one game shy of playing extra basketball.

But all in all, I went with Morrison. She has great guards in Leonard and Gretchen Morrison. Morrison also brought a budding freshman along in post Priscilla Smeenge. And while Carroll was the class of its district, there still should be extra credit for going undefeated. That’s very rare.

Understandably, there was frustration because the Lady Dragons didn’t make the Region I tournament. But this team played to its strength as an open-floor team and executed very well.

Boys Player of the Year – Taylor Johnson, Northwest, G, Sr.

Head coach Mike Hatch probably gave Northwest ISD Athletic Director Susan Elza a high-five when she lured Rusty Johnson away from Aledo to take over the girls program. With Rusty’s arrival came his son Taylor.

We found out what an offensive juggernaut Johnson was when he went off for 30 points against Plano West in the Whataburger Tournament during the Christmas Break. Johnson was a pure shooter. Once he got his look and spotted up, it was going in. He averaged nearly 16 points per game. But he was a complete player, adding five rebounds and two assists. There likely won’t be another shooter like this to come through Northwest for the next several years.

Boys Coach of the Year – Randall Durant, Keller

Durant might be the best coach in North Texas that nobody knows about. That’s a shame, because Durant has built a really solid program at Keller High School.

This team was a bad overtime performance against Lubbock Coronado away from reaching the Class 5A Region I tournament. But the Indians went 24-6 and won the outright District 4-5A championship. Durant also had two very solid leaders in Nolan Taylor and Kyle Tanner. Keller advanced the furthest of any team we cover.

Congrats to all of our winners. We’re looking forward to the 2014-2015 season with new districts, challenges and rivalries.