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Cy Falls’ hoops geared up for another state title run

Cy Falls will look for another deep run. Vype

Originally appeared on Vype.com.

Cypress Falls made school history winning the 2017 UIL 6A state basketball title, but it’s also in a unique position with its returning talent.

The Golden Eagles not only have six seniors back from the second state championship season in Cy-Fair ISD boys basketball history, but five of them are returning starters.

“We’re trying to make it more memorable,” forward Zach Stephenson said. “Focus on this year, and try to do it again, so it will be more significant later in life.”

The starters include guards Trajan Wesley, Andrew Nguyen and Nigel Hawkins, as well as forwards Kendall Scott and D.J. Weaver.

Wesley is a Louisiana-Lafayette commit, and Hawkins won the UIL State Championship Game MVP last season.

The players know they have something special, and have a bond for life, whether it’s competing on the court, playing NBA 2K or meeting up for meals.

“It’s a good brotherhood,” Nguyen said. “A lot
of memories have been made. Before the lights even come on, you see the bonds we have made and how much fun we have before the game. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

A big part of the team’s success is coach Richard Flores. He taught them before last season’s run to never be the hunted.

“He’s really humbled us and made us realize that we have to take it one game at a time,” Nguyen said. “We can’t look into the future. We have to think about the present right now and we can’t look back at the past.”

That mentality came after a 2016 playoff loss
to Sam Houston. The Eagles remembered the feeling of loss against the Tigers, who advanced to the state tournament in San Antonio.

The Eagles’ six-pack of talent started to excite the community before last season and a buzz started to settle in. That’s why Flores stressed to them that everything they did between then and the year’s ultimate goal would decide their destiny. That approach paid off in not only the championship, but his players turning into leaders as well.

“They know what the expectations are,” Flores said. “The guys have been a lot more vocal, and have taken more and more leadership of the program.”

That was on display at RCS Sports’ Super 16 Extravaganza in late September and early October.

Falls could’ve come out rusty like other teams, but it finished in the top four. That start excites Flores, but he also noticed a couple of areas where his team can improve before district
play and the postseason — defensive rotations, transition, ball movement and game rhythm.

If they clean those up, Flores’ team will be in great shape.

According to him, Weaver is as healthy and strong as he was before his sophomore ACL injury, his speed is back and his ball-handling has improved. Flores also expects Stephenson and Scott to take the next step in man-to-man defense, catch-and-shoot situations, being active on the glass and creating opportunities for teammates.

Wesley played a big role in closing out San Antonio Wagner in last year’s state title game and plans to answer some of those calls. He wants to be a vocal leader on offense and defense, give his teammates more touches and help new players adjust to the team’s system.

When the media and fans talk about this
group’s potential for the season ahead, the team, coaches and school community will be cherishing the run on a daily basis. They are in a rare position where they recognize greatness as it’s happening and don’t want to miss a minute.

“They mean a bunch to this community, this school and to me,” Flores said. “They’ve already established a legacy. If we win, they’ve just added to their legacy, and if we come up a little short, they’ve already established themselves as one of the best teams in the state and in the nation.

“They set a standard for this program, as to what [it needs] to do to be successful.”

 

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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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