HS Boys Basketball: Senior Night Ends in a District Title for College Park

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 02/07/2024


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The College Park Cavaliers (30-4) celebrated their senior night and newly won district title with a 72-55 win against the visiting Conroe Tigers (16-14).

Considering the occasion, the Cavaliers started an entire lineup of seniors against the Tigers. The decision made for a sluggish start for both teams, but opening threes from Lance Eckel and T.K. Campbell got College Park going offensively.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, College Park Head Coach Clifton McNeely sang praises for contributions from his seniors in the early going.

“Starting all seniors tonight, I had no worries about,” said McNeely. “I am extremely proud of them for the way they compete.”

The rock-solid defense from the Cavs allowed the scorers to take their time. Close contests and frequent fouls against College Park ensured the only points Conroe reliably got were from the free-throw line.

After substitutes relieved the seniors, the Cavalier offense found a steady rhythm that gradually built a lead. The limited response from Conroe’s offense compounded the issue, with the team falling behind 16-8 after the first quarter.

The Tigers found some solid footing as the second quarter got underway. A 4-0 run that lasted two minutes brought the team within two possessions of tying or taking the lead.

The key to Conroe’s success was a greater emphasis on outside shots and crashing the boards for second or third-chance opportunities.

A battle followed Conroe’s run, with College Park reestablishing their offensive groove from the first quarter. Every time the Tigers got within two possessions of tying, the Cavaliers would string together enough baskets to maintain separation.

Some crucial shots from the corners broke the back-and-forth scoring in favor of College Park. The Cavalier lead swelled to double digits due to the high-quality shooting, and the momentum went with them into the locker room.

Conroe needed answers after halftime with their team down 32-21.

“Everyone thinks we’re going to blow everybody out, but it’s a matter of winning the game,” said McNeely. “The bottom line is our kids play together and understand how to compete when it gets tough.”

The defenses continued to control the game at the beginning of the second half. Both squads combined for four points through the first three minutes of the quarter, further showing the offensive inconsistency.

Following the point trading, the Cavaliers found another scoring run that extended the lead. Some stingy defense turned stops into transition opportunities that were cashed in for easy points.

Despite Conroe’s best efforts, momentum continued to build against them as the second ticked by. Their hopes of a potential comeback were made harder to achieve due to a technical foul late in the third that gave possession and shots to the Cavs.

The made free throws and some additional baskets before time expired gave College Park a 54-34 lead going into the final eight minutes of play.

The 20-point lead allowed the rest of the College Park seniors who did not start the game to appear in front of their home crowd for the last time.

Dagger threes from the Cavaliers effectively sealed the win, but more contributions from the seniors were needed to call the night a true success. Dalyn Johnson helped lead the charge with effective shots in open space.

His and Martez James’ contributions punctuated the dominant effort on the night from College Park.

Conroe kept up their fight by pounding the rock inside the paint, where they held a minor size advantage. Gary Lewis and Jaden Ramos attempted to back their way toward easier shots but to no avail.

“I thought Dalyn [Johnosn] did a tremendous job on Gary tonight,” said a pleased McNeely. “I don’t think there is a better defender in the district, and Dalyn did what he needed to do when we asked him to.”

The primary offensive production for the Tigers down the stretch fell to free throws and the occasional make on a second-chance look.

Fouls on both teams and a heightened tension pouring in from the stands dragged the final minutes of the game to agonizing lengths.

The clock finally struck zero, with the Cavaliers ending their home season with a 72-55 win. The victory also clinches the district title for College Park ahead of their final game of the season on Wednesday, a worthy send-off to the senior class.

“The whole coaching staff wanted this senior class to walk out of this gym for the last time experiencing success,” said McNeely. “We knew first and foremost that it was senior night, and we wanted it to end with them winning one more.”

McNeely and the rest of the Cavaliers will celebrate their district title with one last game on the road at Oak Ridge. Conroe’s season still has two games remaining, with the next being a road matchup against The Woodlands for the last spot in the playoffs for the Highlanders.

Comments •
Log In to Comment