HS Boys Basketball Playoffs: College Park Marches to Regional Quarters After a Dominant Victory Over Langham Creek

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 02/23/2024


THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The Woodlands High School hosted a 64-37 UIL Area Round matchup between the victorious College Park Cavaliers (33-4) and the Langham Creek Lobos (22-14).

College Park looked to assert themselves from the opening tip, with overwhelming offense defining the team’s start. Three straight authoritative drives to the rim from College Park’s Mantez James and a three from Ian Inman put the Cavs up 9-2 in the first three minutes.

Langham Creek was caught flatfooted by the offensive burst and had to call an early timeout to fix the team’s issues.

Instead of falling into place or simmering down, the Cavs accelerated with even more offensive output. Back-to-back threes from a red-hot James and Aiden Buckmon extended the lead to 13 points.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, College Park Head Coach Clifton McNeely elaborated on the preparation his squad took on that led to such a productive open.

“Our focus tonight was to come out and play defensively because that’s what wins this time of year,” said McNeely. “We told Martez to attack the rim, and he did a great job getting downhill and drawing fouls early.”

Work on defense also helped to build the lead for College Park. Defensive switches kept ball handlers occupied, and the Cavs dominated the defensive glass to limit second-chance opportunities.

The Lobos fought to keep the game close toward the end of the quarter, but lapses in crucial moments ensured they made little headweigh.

With practically everything going their way, the Cavs ended the first quarter with a 20-6 lead and considerable momentum.

Langham Creek responded to the adversity of the first quarter with a ferocious fight to start the second. A 5-0 run took slightly over a minute to bring the deficit down to single digits.

But, a timeout from McNeely reinvigorated the Cavalier’s fight by immediately swinging the lead back to 11.

The scoring explosion from both squads continued through the midway point of the second, with points going back and forth between the awoken offenses. Every chance for the Lobos to inch back into the game was matched by the Cavs attempting to maintain control of the affair.

Steady work from James kept his team in front, resulting in a 16-point first half for the dominant Cavalier big man.

“Martez is key,” said McNeely of his center. “A big part of our scouting report was to get to the paint, and he did a great job of it.”

Late makes from Langham Creek brought the game back to within single digits, but College Park still held a commanding 31-22 lead going into the half.

“We didn’t finish the second quarter well, but that’s the playoffs,” said McNeely during the half. “The other team is going to quit or go away. I’m proud of how we played, but it needed to extend to the second half.”

The confidence in College Park’s attack remained a pillar of the team to open the third quarter. A 5-0 run from the Cavs returned the team’s lead to 13, with the pressure back on the Lobos to respond.

Langham Creek replied with a run of their own that brought the game back to a manageable deficit, but continual scoring from the College Park supporting cast asserted the team’s dominance.

Points from four different Cavs during the third quarter further illustrated the team’s firm grasp on the game.

Even through timeouts, McNeely’s squad played savvy defense that kept the lead perpetually out of reach. A 43-30 lead kept College Park in the driver’s seat, with the final quarter set to decide Langham Creek’s fate.

Time was running out for the Lobos to keep their season alive. Defensive stops would have to be frequent, and makes on offense would have to come in bulk if the hopes of a comeback were to be salvaged.

Knowing the pressure was off them, the Cavs took their time on offense. Attempts to milk as many seconds off the clock as possible meant the Lobos had to work through anxious offensive possessions.

The potential Langham Creek comeback was hindered by inside makes from College Park when the opportunities presented themselves. Due to a barrage of makes, the lead swelled past the original 13-point lead to 20 points with three minutes remaining.

A Langham Creek timeout served as a last-ditch effort for the team to regroup and get back into the game. Unfortunately, no amount of effort on defense from the Lobos kept the Cavalier wave from engulfing the team with the seconds ticking by.

The players eased up with under a minute remaining, and Langham Creek supporters made for the exits. A resounding cheer broke out from both fanbases as substitutes came into the game.

The mop-up duty from both units ended the lopsided affair with the Cavaliers taking home a 64-37 victory.

“We’re a good offensive team with guys that can consistently knock down threes,” said a satisfied McNeely postgame. “I thought our freshmen played a little bit nervous, but they’ll settle down and be fine as we progress and move on.”

McNeely, his coaches, and the rest of College Park will prepare to play the Cypress Ranch Mustangs in the Regional Quarterfinals, with the location yet to be announced at the time of writing.

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