Boys basketball: McNeely breaks down district race
THE WOODLANDS, Texas – The District 14-5A boys’ basketball season begins Tuesday and College Park High School boys’ basketball coach Clifton McNeely said he expects a very competitive season.
“I think it’s going to be a very interesting race,” McNeely said. “There’s a lot of diversity in this district. I think the district race is going to be a big challenge because each school offers something different to throw at you.”
The Woodlands High School boys’ basketball team raises the curtain on the district season by hosting Conroe while the Oak Ridge High School boys’ basketball team travels to Bryan. Both games are scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.
“The Woodlands is the defending champion and until someone knocks them off then they’re not going to give it away,” McNeely said.
College Park draws a bye on Tuesday and opens the district season at 7 p.m. Friday at Oak Ridge.
McNeely said he is pleased with where the Cavaliers (12-5) are at this point, leading into the league opener. The Cavaliers throw a plethora of challenges to opposing defenses. Brett Reed, McKinley Green, Tristen Newman, Keanu Andaya, Jayden Holden and Chandler Morris are all capable of scoring the basketball.
“I think we’ve made tremendous progress,” he said. “I think we found out a lot about all of our players and what we can and can’t do. I still think we have a big opportunity for improvement but I’m pleased at this point. I think the guys are ready to get into district play.”
Size could be an intimidating factor for The Woodlands, the district’s defending champion.
“They’ve got the biggest lineup in the district,” McNeely said. “And they have good depth. They don’t necessarily have the same level of guards that they’ve had in the past few years, but their guards are solid, they don’t make mistakes and they knock down the open shots.
“When you’re 6-9 (Xavier Valdes), 6-7 (Cameron Burkett), 6-5 (Cody Mason, Garrett Smith), not everybody can match up with that.”
Bryan has some talent and plays tough defense.
“They’ve got two of the most athletic players out there and they do a great job in playing their 2-3 zone,” McNeely. “The guys do a great job of knowing their role and their responsibilities. They play very, very well together.”
Hovering around the .500-mark, Conroe is beginning to find itself under new coach John Oliverio.
“They’ve made a lot of progress out there with coach Oliverio,” McNeely said. “They had some success last weekend up in Austin. The guys are starting to figure out what the coach expects of them. They’re starting to play well and get after it.”
McNeely said Lufkin is an unknown, “They really don’t have that go-to guy they had last year,” he said. “But they’ve got a lot of quality athletes and they do a great job defensively. They’ve got good depth coming off their bench.”
A&M Consolidated hasn’t had as much success so far but is just now getting its football players back from the playoffs.
“They’re trying to get in court shape and the other guys are trying to get used to playing with them and competing with them,” McNeely said.
He lauded the progress Joe Price has made at Oak Ridge; “He’s done a great job,” McNeely said. “They play with seven guys, but their seven guys are very, very effective out there.”
Tanner Doyel, Trumaine Jefferson, Josh Caldwell, Josh Myers, Cameron Prejean, George Buck, any one or all of them are capable of scoring in double figures on a given night.
“They’re another team that doesn’t necessarily have any great size,” McNeely said. “But the five guys they start out there can compete and play with anyone. They do a great job of attacking the basket. They’ve got guys that can shot the basketball. Coach Price has really done a great job in a short period of time of getting them to play well.
“That would be a great game to go watch tomorrow, the Bryan and Oak Ridge game. But I think there’s going to be a lot of good games.”