Cover Photo via @RHS_BoysBB on Twitter
DFW - Week 26
The playoffs are here! The men’s playoffs tipoff Monday night across the state for the bi-district round and the women are several rounds deep in the playoffs and one of the top ranked teams has already fallen! On the women's side there have already been some upsets and there figure to be a few ahead on the men's side.
Irving MacArthur Falls to South Grand Prairie
Hannah Gusters and Sarah Andrews’ high school careers are officially over. The good news for metroplex fans is the dynamic duo are moving just an hour south to play collegiate ball at Baylor. Andrews knocked down a deep three from the corner to tie the game with just a few seconds remaining, but Camryn Hill of South Grand Prairie converted a floater from the midrange as time expired to lift South Grand Prairie over MacArthur 73-71. This was one of the best games of the year and it took eight three-point field goals from SGP’s Kiara Jackson to pull off the upset. South Grand Prairie has been and will continue to be a team to watch moving forward.
First Round Matchups to Watch
South Grand Prairie vs Duncanville
Speaking of South Grand Prairie, the men’s squad will need to play as well as the women did if they want a chance to upset the top-ranked team in the state. Duncanville comes into the playoffs with a recent loss to Richardson, but the Panthers still sit at 26-3 overall. The defending state champions lost Jahmi’us Ramsey to Texas Tech last season and will lose Micah Peavy to Texas Tech after this season. The Panthers have Peavy for one last playoff run and they get no favors having to play SGP in the first round.
Byron Nelson vs Lewisville
I will have my eyes on this game in particular. Though it lacks the star-power of the first game I mentioned, I have had an eye on these two teams all season long. Byron Nelson impressed me early in the season and only faltered against state powerhouse Denton Guyer District play. Byron Nelson’s bench doesn’t inspire much confidence for a deep playoff run, but the Bobcats have a strong starting five. Those five will need to make sure they stay out of foul trouble against Lewisville. The Fighting Farmers will have the best player on the court in sophomore Keyonte George. How many other players step up and play well behind George is the question. Lewisville has had several players step up over the course of the season and they’ll need good play across the board to beat a good Byron Nelson squad.
Keller Coach Randall Durant Steps Down
Keller opens the playoff at Grapevine against Flower Mound on Tuesday night and the Indians will be without head coach Randall Durant. Assistant coach Ryan Speaks will step in to take his place after Durant resigned from his position last Friday. Speaks has been a longtime assistant on Durant’s staff at Keller and will have no easy task in trying to coach the Indians to a win against a solid Flower Mound squad that finished second in a deep and talented District 6-6A.
Metroplex Teams to Watch
The Allen Eagles are a top-five team in the state for a reason. Allen boasts senior leadership from Louisiana Tech pledge Thailand Elder and Northern Colorado commit Bryce Kennedy. The Eagles also deploy five-star junior Manny Obaseki. Allen blew through District 9-6A en route to finishing 30-4 and earning the No. 5 ranking in the state heading into the playoffs. The Eagles open up the playoffs against Garland in Region II. Standing between Allen and a return trip to the Final Four in Region II is No. 3 Ellison, No. 13 Vandegrift, No. 19 Spring Westfield and No. 23 Prosper, a team Allen already has two wins against. Vandegrift has five-star senior Greg Brown III and Ellison and Spring Westfield have the ability to give Allen all they can handle as well.
The surprise team of the year resides in Grand Prairie. The Gophers suffered just one loss in arguably the best district in the state. A road loss to a talented Waxahachie squad was the only blemish and Grand Prairie secured the top seed in District 7-6A. Jaylin Posey could lead this team on a deep playoff run and the Gophers are well prepared for the Region I gauntlet after district play. Grand Prairie will play Lake Highlands in the first round and could have a date with No. 1 Duncanville later in the playoffs. Waxahachie could be looming if Grand Prairie is able to defeat Duncanville unless No. 6 Richardson or No. 18 Denton Guyer eliminates the Indians.
Speaking of Waxahachie, the Indians have the talent to make a deep playoff run as well. Waxahachie has a three-headed monster with CJ Noland, BJ Francis and Jalen Lake leading the Indians. As mentioned above, Waxahachie was the only team in District 7-6A to beat Grand Prairie and district play certainly prepared the Indians to play one good team after another in the playoffs. Waxahachie will play J.J. Pearce in the first round but Denton Guyer, Richardson, and potentially DeSoto loom later in the playoffs. DeSoto takes on Richardson in the first round and is responsible for one of the three losses Waxahachie suffered in district play.
Round One Look-Ahead
I am going to pick one team, one player and one storyline to watch each week of the playoffs. Here is who I picked for rounds one and two of the playoffs.
Richardson was flying high after handing Duncanville its only district loss of the season. The Eagles responded with a one-point win over a less talented Lake Highlands team to close out the regular season. Richardson doesn’t get to ease into the playoffs after losing a coin-flip with Duncanville for the top seed in District 8-6A. The Eagles will take on DeSoto in round one and it could be an early exit for Richardson if it isn’t on the top of its game.
Player: Keyonte George
Lewisville doesn’t have an easy first round game either with Byron Nelson. George is just a sophomore, but he will be expected to carry this team throughout the playoffs for the next several years. Byron Nelson has some length and several players who can guard multiple positions. George might need to get crafty to find open looks in this game.
Storyline: Newman Smith
Of course, I will be watching this one closely throughout the playoffs, as will many others in the metroplex. Newman Smith pulled off a perfect regular season at 27-0. The Trojans will open the playoffs in Region II against Dallas Samuell. The No. 6 Trojans could also face No. 8 Kimball and No. 1 Lancaster later in Region II. If Newman Smith does make it to the Final Four, either No. 2 Fort Bend Hightower or No. 3 Shadow Creek could be waiting for them. It will be a tall task for Newman Smith to pull off a perfect season, but the opportunity is there.