High School Basketball

Holiday tournament slate gives peek into postseason; plus rankings

Holiday tournament slate gives peek into postseason; plus rankings
Klein Forest is climbing the rankings. Vype

Originally appeared on Vype.com.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday break, there were some premier high school hoops tourneys including the VYPE Tourney, the annual RCS Sports “Hoopsgiving” and Nelson Brand Sports held its annual Texas Jamboree.

THE HOOPSGIVING

Cy Falls vs San Antonio Wagner

A rematch of the 2017 state championship game. Cy Falls came out looking to prove once again that they are still the team that they were a year ago. The Golden Eagles pulled off an impressive 72-60 victory and there were moments in the game were they simply dominated.

Katy Tompkins vs Austin Westlake

Very few times are will there be so much talent on the floor in a single public high school game. Westlake featured Brock Cunningham (UT), Keonte Kennedy (Xavier), Matthew Mayer (Baylor) and Will Baker (2019 ESPN #15), which brought the Tompkins five-game win string to a haltering stop. Tompkins once again struggled to find a rhythm and ability to put the ball in the whole.

Concordia Lutheran vs Silsbee

This match was one of the most anticipated games of the day — your typical public/private school rivalry. Concordia (17-0) at the time, while Silsbee was yet to play their first game. The talented Lutheran squad made big shot after big shot, but the defending 5A state champs weren’t going away as easily as some had predicted. In the end, the Crusaders walked away with an 87-79 win.

TEXAS JAMBOREE

Morton Ranch vs Dallas Lancaster

A match between a couple of tough 2020 guards LJ Cryer from Morton Ranch and Mike Myles of Lancaster. Lancaster pulled out a 72-60 win because of a strong defensive game plan for Cryer. Big-man Eddie Lampkin played strong finishing with 13 pts and 9 rebs.

Episcopal vs Lamar

The Episcopal Knights pulled off a great win against a talented Lamer squad. DJ Edgar along with Adam Kanafani led the young and talented Knights against a well-seasoned Lamar team. Episcopal has started its season 5-1, while Lamar has suffered back-to-back losses.

Dekaney vs FB Bush

Bush had no answer for Dekaney’s Malcolm Epps, who has been playing at an extremely high level for the Wildcats. Epp’s production helped lead his team to a 53-47 victory. Dekaney is on a mission to prove that they are the area’s top team and will look to win the KISD Conoco Phillips Classic later this week.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL REGULAR SEASON RANKINGS

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 27TH

Rank

Team (Record)

Comment
1Cy FallsRolling Opponents Early On
2DekaneyEpps brings Toughness
3Sam HoustonDavis Runs the Show
4EisenhowerTwin Power Activate
5YatesStill Power Program in HTown
6TompkinsStill Finding Rotation
7Klein ForestShort Bench; Fun Style of Play
8BushWill Come Together
9Clear LakeCould be Surprise come Playoffs
10DickinsonTaking Lumps Early
11HightowerCould They be Kings of Fort Bend
12Shadow CreekGreat Balance; Great Shooters
13LamarTough Preseason Sked
14Ridge PointAthletic and Playing Well
15College ParkPlayed well in Illinois
16Cy CreekEagles Could be Tough Down South
17Morton RanchYoung Guns Starting to Roll
18KatyNot Just a Football School
19Cy RanchSolid Squad in CFISD
20TravisLooked Good at VYPE Tourney

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The Astros have their work cut out for them. Composite Getty Image.

Through 20 games, the Houston Astros have managed just six wins and are in last place in the AL West.

Their pitching staff trails only Colorado with a 5.24 ERA and big-money new closer Josh Hader has given up the same number of earned runs in 10 games as he did in 61 last year.

Despite this, these veteran Astros, who have reached the AL Championship Series seven consecutive times, have no doubt they’ll turn things around.

“If there’s a team that can do it, it’s this team,” shortstop Jeremy Peña said.

First-year manager Joe Espada, who was hired in January to replace the retired Dusty Baker, discussed his team’s early struggles.

“It’s not ideal,” he said. “It’s not what we expected, to come out of the shoot playing this type of baseball. But you know what, this is where we’re at and we’ve got to pick it up and play better. That’s just the bottom line.”

Many of Houston’s problems have stemmed from a poor performance by a rotation that has been decimated by injuries. Ace Justin Verlander and fellow starter José Urquidy haven’t pitched this season because of injuries and lefty Framber Valdez made just two starts before landing on the injured list with a sore elbow.

Ronel Blanco, who threw a no-hitter in his season debut April 1, has pitched well and is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three starts this season. Cristian Javier is also off to a good start, going 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in four starts, but the team has won just two games not started by those two pitchers.

However, Espada wouldn’t blame the rotation for Houston’s current position.

“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster how we've played overall,” he said. “One day we get good starting pitching, some days we don’t. The middle relief has been better and sometimes it hasn’t been. So, we’ve just got to put it all together and then play more as a team. And once we start doing that, we’ll be in good shape.”

The good news for the Astros is that Verlander will make his season debut Friday night when they open a series at Washington and Valdez should return soon after him.

“Framber and Justin have been a great part of our success in the last few years,” second baseman Jose Altuve said. “So, it’s always good to have those two guys back helping the team. We trust them and I think it’s going to be good.”

Hader signed a five-year, $95 million contract this offseason to give the Astros a shutdown 7-8-9 combination at the back end of their bullpen with Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly. But the five-time All-Star is off to a bumpy start.

He allowed four runs in the ninth inning of a 6-1 loss to the Braves on Monday night and has yielded eight earned runs this season after giving up the same number in 56 1/3 innings for San Diego last year.

He was much better Wednesday when he struck out the side in the ninth before the Astros fell to Atlanta in 10 innings for their third straight loss.

Houston’s offense, led by Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, ranks third in the majors with a .268 batting average and is tied for third with 24 homers this season. But the Astros have struggled with runners in scoring position and often failed to get a big hit in close games.

While many of Houston’s hitters have thrived this season, one notable exception is first baseman José Abreu. The 37-year-old, who is in the second year of a three-year, $58.5 million contract, is hitting 0.78 with just one extra-base hit in 16 games, raising questions about why he remains in the lineup every day.

To make matters worse, his error on a routine ground ball in the eighth inning Wednesday helped the Braves tie the game before they won in extra innings.

Espada brushed off criticism of Abreu and said he knows the 2020 AL MVP can break out of his early slump.

“Because (of) history,” Espada said. “The back of his baseball card. He can do it.”

Though things haven’t gone well for the Astros so far, everyone insists there’s no panic in this team which won its second World Series in 2022.

Altuve added that he doesn’t have to say anything to his teammates during this tough time.

“I think they’ve played enough baseball to know how to control themselves and how to come back to the plan we have, which is winning games,” he said.

The clubhouse was quiet and somber Wednesday after the Astros suffered their third series sweep of the season and second at home. While not panicking about the slow start, this team, which has won at least 90 games in each of the last three seasons, is certainly not happy with its record.

“We need to do everything better,” third baseman Alex Bregman said. “I feel like we’re in a lot of games, but we just haven’t found a way to win them. And good teams find a way to win games. So we need to find a way to win games.”

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