By R.V. Baugus
Special to MaxPreps.com
The high school basketball season is to the point where top teams are knocking off other upper echelon squads. In other words, it’s playoff time, and the Houston area was home to some big games with even bigger crowds.
In one of the most anticipated postseason match-ups in years, Brittney Griner and Aldine Nimitz took center stage at the Campbell Center against Kelsey Bone and Fort Bend Dulles in a Class 5A regional semifinal of huge proportions.
Griner fouled out, but not before the 6-foot-8 Baylor signee notched 27 points, seven rebounds and eight blocks to spur her team to a 76-59 win over Dulles. Included in the scoring barrage was a pair of dunks that had brought the crowd to its feet.
The 6-3 Bone, who hasn’t declared her collegiate intentions yet, did all she could with 26 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
Nimitz went on to beat Houston Bellaire, 45-26, to reach the state tournament in Austin, where it will be joined by TABC/Tex Preps Basketball state No. 1 Mansfield Summit, Pflugerville and Houston Cypress-Fairbanks.
But it was the Nimitz-Dulles game that was all the talk. A crowd of 6,335 showed up to watch two of the best seniors in the state go at it and they were not disappointed, save for Griner fouling out of a game this year for the first time with 3:46 still to play in the third quarter.
On the boys side in the Houston area, Class 5A No. 1 and unbeaten Houston Strake Jesuit kept its playoff march alive by topping Houston Madison, 69-57, in an area round contest. This game had a crowd of more than 8,000 to see if Oklahoma signee Tommy Mason-Griffin could will the Marlins to a win over Strake.
Last weekend’s results created a number of juicy pairings in boys action, beginning with top 10 teams Duncanville and Plano West squaring off. Duncanville seems to be rounding into tournament mode after opening the playoffs with wins against Plano, 63-32, and Flower Mound Marcus, 52-35. West had its hands full in bi-district with Irving MacArthur before beating Hurst L.D. Bell, 82-65.
In Region IV, San Antonio Madison was ousted in the area round by San Antonio Wagner, 65-64, just one round after the Mavericks edged Austin Akins, 55-54. With the loss Madison, a longtime No. 1 team in the state, ended 34-2.
Converse Judson remains the only other team with just one loss, and the Rockets of head coach Mike Wacker are 35-1 after beating San Antonio Warren, 53-38, and Austin Westlake, 57-54. Judson next meets 34-3 Pflugerville in what should be an outstanding regional quarterfinal contest.
Back in the Houston area, Class 4A is absolutely loaded with some intriguing regional quarterfinals, starting with what should be a scoreboard-rattling game between Houston Yates and Houston Wheatley. Yates, averaging better than 100 points a contest, smashed Houston Furr, 105-35, and Texas City, 98-59, in its first two playoff games. The Lions, 29-1, are part of a 4A bracket that includes fellow HISD members Washington and Jones.
Another team that is peaking at the right time is David Piehler’s Dallas Highland Park Scots. Early in the year Piehler believed his young team was ranked too high and Scots bore it out with some frustrating losses.
But the Scots have caught fire. First, HP finished the regular season by thumping state No. 1 and district rival Carrollton Newman Smith. In the second round of the playoffs Piehler’s squad took down the next team to become No. 1 in the state in Dallas Carter, 51-46. The Scots meet Sherman in the regional quarterfinals and will be worth keeping an eye on.
In Region IV, Austin Lake Travis gets a third game this year against district foe Killeen in the quarterfinals. The teams split a pair of regular season contests with Killeen notching its win shortly after Pflugerville Hendrickson beat Lake Travis to knock the Cavaliers off the No. 1 pedestal.
Olney’s Cubs, which are in the Class 2A regional quarterfinals against Comanche, presented coach J.D. Sullivan with his 300th career win in a playoff warm-up game against Forestburg. Olney is 29-8 heading into its next game.