NISD boys’ teams gear up for next step
By Pat Turner
District 28-6A’s boys basketball race ended rather quietly this past week.
League champion Brennan (25-6, 17-1), O’Connor (23-9, 14-4) and Brandeis (21-9, 13-5) had already wrapped up the top three playoff positions. However, there was a chance a second-place tie occurred if O’Connor lost to Warren and Brandeis won its final match over Marshall.
That scenario was avoided because the Panthers and Broncos came out victors. Because of their wins, the possibility of a wilder situation was erased.
Going into the final game, Marshall, Warren and Stevens were tied for fourth place, meaning a mini-playoff situation would be coming if nothing was settled.
Thanks to help from Brandeis’ 73-69 overtime win over Marshall and O’Connor’s 53-52 come-from-behind victory over Warren, Stevens secured the fourth spot with a 66-41 zapping of Holmes.
There was still quite a bit of drama. Warren owned a 48-31 lead over O’Connor going into the fourth quarter, but the Panthers staged the comeback of the year by holding the Warriors to four points and exploding for 22 points behind Brendan Wenzel, who finished with 22 points, and Brandon Jones.
Marshall, backed by Savyon Frye’s 33 points and 11 rebounds, Diego Walton (10 points, eight rebounds) and Jayden Garcia (12 points, 10 rebounds), took Brandeis to overtime after rallying to tie the score at 58-58.
Once in OT, Brandeis got the edge as Jordan Wood and Kyle Schaefer, who both finished with 16 points, led the way. The Broncos were also aided by 13-point performances from Tanner Brown and Sam Gray.
Stevens (18-12, 10-8), on the other hand, kept stress at a minimum. The Falcons were down 16-14 after one period but vaulted to a 33-26 halftime lead and managed to stay in front through the third period despite a couple run by Holmes.
Stevens delivered the crowning blow in the fourth period. The Falcons, who relied on aggressive defense throughout district play, held the Huskies to three points, while Carlton Linguard, who led Stevens with 23 points, and Jerene Batts (19 points) sparked a 19-point burst.
“We’re really happy to be part of (playoffs),” Stevens coach Michael Raynes said. “We had to take it one at a time. We’ve had some good moments playing basketball. The seniors really helped us, and we got great support from our younger players.”
Now, Brennan, O’Connor, Brandeis and Stevens look to shine in the playoffs.
Brennan plays Madison Monday at Northside. O’Connor and Reagan meet at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Northside following Clark and Steel’s girls’ regional quarterfinals contest.
At Littleton Gym, Brandeis faces Roosevelt at 6:30 p.m. and Stevens goes against 27-6A champion Johnson at 8 p.m.
Brennan battled through a rash of injuries early in the season but got rolling in district place. The Bears grabbed the top spot early and maintained the lead the entire way with the only setback coming to O’Connor in the first half.
Several close encounters occurred but the Bears round ways to win with hard-nosed defense and balanced scoring.
That was pretty much the situation in the regular season finale as Brennan pulled out a 48-42 win over Jay.
Jay continued to stay close, but Brennan remained on top. Jacari Sanders turned in another well-rounded showing, delivering 14 points with eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Support came from Kyle Castille (12 points), Jaden Moore (12 points) and Norman Beckford (11 points).
While NISD’s 28-6A teams were going through another highly-competitive district race, Harlan’s boys wrote another chapter in the Hawks’ historical season as a first-year varsity participant.
Harlan has already reached the playoffs in football, volleyball and girls’ basketball. Now, boys’ basketball is added to the list with a 28-5A title added to the mix.
Harlan finished the regular season with a 67-46 zapping of Eagle Pass Winn.
The Hawks too charge immediately by springing to a 25-4 lead in the first period.
Dazhaun Walton led Harlan with 18 points.
It’s been an impressive run for the Hawks (21-9, 15-1) throughout the season. In addition to Walton, Jelen Hanspard, Elijah Lomas, Ja’Kobe Barkley, Zarion Pitre, Demarco Reed and Justin Ostaszewksi have provided big moments.
Now, the Hawks look to enjoy another historical moment during their bi-district bout with Highlands at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Alamo Convocation Center.
For images from the game you can click here