Nimitz versus Dulles, Cougars versus Vikings, Brittany Griner versus Kelsey Bone, 1 versus 2, whatever people wanted to call it, only one giant would be left standing when it was over.
This was only the second time these young ladies would be facing each other and as I still scratch my head over why a city this size wouldn’t market them against each other over the past three years, I was impressed with the steady flow of fans who kept coming in and I was thinking that this was shaping up to be the largest crowd I have ever witnessed for a girls game in Houston.
Dulles started the game off with two quick turnovers as Nimitz scored first. Bone scored the first field goal for Dulles at the 5:43 mark as they trailed 6-3. At 4:14, IT happened. Griner steals the ball in the backcourt and throws a monster dunk, ala MJ tomahawk, that brought the fans to their feet. The first quarter was all Griner and Nimitz led 23-7, Griner with 16 points. As I was thinking blowout and wondering what was going on because this game didn’t start like the last one did.
The second quarter proved to be costly for Dulles as Jasmine Henderson picked up her third foul with less than a minute into the quarter. This would be one of many questionable calls on both ends but losing another Henderson really hurt, younger sister was on crutches and hit two threes in the first meeting. Griner picked up her second foul at the 4:19 mark however turnovers hung over the Vikings all quarter, as did team fouls 10-4 with two minutes left in the half which ended 41-22, should have been 25 but the refs waved off a 25 foot banker by Bone at the buzzer. Griner had 22 points at the half, also THREE fouls, Bone led Dulles with 11 points.
As the third quarter started, I was wondering what was different in this game because Dulles came out flat and Nimitz wanted it badly. Amber Arceneaux didn’t play the first time so I am thinking this game was going to Dulles. Did they miss the younger Hendersons outside scoring that much? Where was the fire from round one? Picking up action, after Griner had committed her fourth foul, Bone hits a jumper on a nice assist from Jasmine Henderson, then a Dulles steal by Bone, who gets her shot blocked back to back by Griner, who is then fouled by Bone leads to what I consider the dumbest display on the part of fans who threw ice on the court. Griner is called for her FIFTH foul at the 3:46 mark in the third with Nimitz leading 49-30. The quarter ends 51-41 as I could see the intensity finally picking up for Dulles.
Bone cuts the lead under 10 at 7:40 and Dulles is rolling, after all, no Griner and Nimitz is supposed to be nothing with out her. Funny thing is no one told Nimitz and if someone did, Jessica Diamond and sophomore sensation Chrishauna Parker were not listening as they teamed up to extend the lead back to 19 after Griner had fouled out, which Bone wound up doing with 54 seconds left. Nimitz wins the game, 76-59 and was led by Griners 27 points, followed by Diamond’s 18 and Parkers 13. Bone was high scorer for Dulles with 26 points. Dulles has nothing to be ashamed of and Bone and Henderson’s third straight appearance to the Regional Final Four is something only a handful of kids have accomplished.
Bellaire vs Hightower
As the crowd trickled away after the first game, I came back to reality that Houston was not a girls basketball town and many folks just came to see a 6’8 female dunk a basketball. I happened to be sitting on the side of one of my players, Diamond Ford, Hightower, who I have known since she was in the sixth grade. Some Bellaire folks found this offensive since my older daughter attended Bellaire for a couple of years and I also knew many of the kids, yet no Bellaire player plays for me. Interesting, but that’s the way folks think, but I am all about loyalty and I wanted my player to win.
Ford hits a jumper at 7:20 for the first score of the game and Bellaire doesn’t score until the 4:20 mark, problem is Hightower hasn’t scored again and trails at the end of the first quarter 13-6. Bellaire was led by Zoe Rogers offense, 7 points in the quarter and the defense from Annette Davis, 6 rebounds. Jade Handy and Raven Burns also scored for Bellaire.
Rogers hits a three with 5:03 left in the half to extend Bellaire’s lead to twelve, 18-6. Danyale Baker banks in a three for Hightower but Bellaire’s Taylor McGilbra banks in her own three and then “dishes a dime” to Rogers who hits a baseline jumper. Bellaire ends the half up 25-12, Rogers leads the way with 12 or exactly what Hightower has scored. Ford was sick the first time they played Belliare in a 7 point loss, but Hightower was missing senior post Bridgette James who was the heart and soul of the team, doing so many things you don’t see in the box score.
Bellaire extended the lead in the second half and never looked back, winning 55-37. Zoe Rogers continued her torrid scoring with 21 points and Annette Davis added 17. Hightower was led by Diamond Ford’s 14 points. Speaking of Hightower, who was trying to get back to state for the second time, first was way back when my hair was all black, 2003, when they were led by Texas A&M star LaToya Micheaux.
Cy Fair vs Dallas Skyline
Let me set the stage for you folks. No Cassie Peoples, out with a broken leg, Dallas’ success over Houston area teams in the playoffs and both of my picks losing so far tonight. The problem is nobody told Chiney Ogwumike she was supposed to lose and if they did, she didn’t listen. Yeah, I wanted Cy Fair to win and win in a bad way. I have a player on the team, Aarika Reyna, I know most of the kids, been knowing Chiney since she was under 6 feet and they are from Houston. When Cy Fair beat Westfield, I was neutral because Gevenia “Nay “ Carter also played for me in AAU.
On the campus of Baylor University, this game was nip and tuck all the way. Cy Fair was up 10-8 after the first quarter, however was down three, 27-24 at the half. Cy Fair was still down three after the third quarter, 41-38 before Ogwumike took over in the fourth quarter and led her team to come from behind 54-51 victory. Ironically Cy Fair beat
Skyline in the semifinals back in 2003-2004, 71-56, when they were led by Texas post Aubrey Cook, however they lost in the Regional finals to a Takia Starks, Texas A&M, led Westfield team, which eventually won state. Ogwumike led Cy Fair with 22 points, Rhian Rogam chipped in 11.
College Park vs Garland Forest
I talked about the M&M duo of Nicole Morgan and Megan Shafer however this game proved to be more than the duo, it was MMMM good. College Park trailed by three, 14-11 after one and 27-24 at the half before opening the game wide open with their signature press led by Monique Smalls’ steals and Allie Messimer’s bombs in the third quarter outscoring Garland Forest 24-13 in the deciding third quarter and winning 65-55. Smalls led the way with 20, Morgan had 18 along with Messimer’s 12 and Shafer’s 7.
Region 2 Final: Cy Fair vs College Park
Cy Fair on nothing but heart and emotion defeated the team many thought would win state. Without Cassie Peoples, their starting point guard, they were supposed to lose to Westfield in the closing two minutes. They were supposed to lose to Skyline in the semifinals and they were definitely supposed to lose to College Park and it’s much talked about patented press. As I stated earlier, no one is telling these things to Chiney Ogwumike and if you are, she ain’t listening. In what will go down as one of the greatest individual performances, Chiney scored 37 points, had 24 rebounds and 8 block shots in 71-54 win over College Park. The defending state champions are going back to state for the third straight year, yes Chiney is going again.
Region 3 Final: Nimitz vs Bellaire
Despite strained relationships and immature voice mails, I found myself cheering for Bellaire, primarily because of the “Purple Pup” connection, more on that later. Nimitz started the game like it’s primary goal had been accomplished the night before in beating Dulles, but Bellaire was cold and this proved to be their downfall. Nimitz ended the first quarter 11-4, so I jet to get some popcorn. A long line forced me to watch a 9-2 Bellaire run led by Annette Davis and Zoe Rogers on closed circuit at the concession stand and back in my seat at the 4 minute mark, the game was tied at 13-13. Maybe I should have just left, because Nimitz closed out the half with a 10-0 run and never looked back in a 45-26 victory. The bright note and I quote one of the Bellaire parents is that “At least Bellaire had enough pride not to allow her to dunk on them!” her being Griner. Using that logic, I guess no NBA or Men’s college team has pride. Brittany Griner led the way for Nimitz with 22 points, Chrishauna Parker added 12. Bellaire was once again led by Zoe Rogers with 10 points.
I told you before that Hightower’s Diamond Ford and Bellaire’s Zoe Rogers and Taylor McGilbra played ball together at Lanier Middle School. My oldest daughter, Simone, played at Lanier and later at Bellaire with Bianca Smith, now at Colorado. They also won the mythical HISD Middle School championship. My younger daughter, Sydney, plays at Texas A&M was also a Pup, along with the Torru sisters, Nia, Incarnate Word and Tamara plays for North Texas. Bellaire has two of the top freshmen in Houston, Bianca Winslow and Raven Burns who, you guessed were Purple Pups.
The Last 5 years
Dulles made it the Final 4 in Region 3, three years in a row, Westside made it to the finals 2 years in a row as did Spring who wound up going to state. Cy Fair is ahead of everyone, making it to 6 straight Regional runs along with it’s third straight state appearance. Prior to this season, Bellaire had not made it since 2003-2004 however since 2005, 13 kids have signed to play ball in college, plus the four seniors who will be playing from this this year brings a whopping total of 17 kids. Hightower on the other hand, hadn’t made it to regional’s since 2002-2003 and Micheaux is their only player playing college. Cy Fair has 10 kids in school playing ball, Dulles has two, Eboni Mangum, TCU, and Sarah Ogoke, Pitt that actually graduated from there, two other finished their careers and signed while at Bellaire. Westside has 7 kids who signed while Spring has 3.
The other Regional semi finalists and the number of kids who signed from their schools to play in college are Cinco Ranch (5), Dobie (4), Fort Bend Marshall (2), Humble (2) and Elkins (1)