Boys basketball midseason report
These five teams qualify as mid-season surprises:
• Del Valle (15-5)
After five consecutive losing seasons from 2011-16, the Cardinals have regained their groove behind veteran coach Marvin Hall and Dayante McClellan, a 6-foot-6 forward who leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Del Valle has won 31 games during the past two seasons and should contend with Bowie for the District 14-6A championship.
• Elgin (13-7)
The Wildcats are off to their best start in coach John Morgan’s three-year tenure and they enter Friday’s game against Cedar Park tied for third in the competitive District 19-5A. Kris Wyche, a 6-4 forward, has double-doubles in four of Elgin’s five district wins.
• Hendrickson (14-9)
Since claiming a district championship in the 2010-11 school year, Hendrickson hasn’t had a winning season, but third-year coach Dustin White has the Hawks soaring into playoff contention. A buzzer-beater by Peyton Hardin gave Hendrickson a signature victory over McNeil on Tuesday and pushed the team into a tie for second place in District 13-6A.
• Leander (12-9)
The Lions were an afterthought after UIL realignment moved them into a Class 6A district with such heavyweights as Westlake, Vista Ridge and Lake Travis, but after three District 25-6A games, Leander remains unbeaten thanks to a ferocious defense anchored by 6-6 forward Chase Cotton.
• Lampasas (15-2)
After posting just three winning records in its previous 10 seasons, Lampasas garnered statewide attention recently when it knocked off state-ranked Boerne at a holiday tournament. On Tuesday, the Badgers legitimized their status as a District 19-4A favorite with a 49-48 win over Burnet.
At this point, these players rank as the leading candidates to be named the 2016-17 All-Central Texas player of the year:
• Victor Bailey Jr., sr., G, McNeil
The only McDonald’s All-American nominee from Central Texas, the 6-3 Oregon signee leads the Mavericks in scoring and assists. He’ll need more help if McNeil is to rebound from a 1-3 start to District 13-6A play.
• Brock Cunningham, jr., F, Westlake
A 6-7 forward who leads the state-ranked Chaps in scoring (15.9 PPG), rebounding (11.8) and floor burns, Cunningham is Westlake’s emotional leader. He’s also a fierce help-side defender who has a team-best 42 blocks.
• Aaron Gregg, sr., G, Vista Ridge
With a fearless and creative style, the 6-2 point guard powers a Vista Ridge team that’s in title contention in District 25-6A. Gregg leads the Rangers with 17.8 points and 4.2 assists per game.
• Kaden Herbert, sr., G, Georgetown
A deft outside touch — Herbert shoots better than 40 percent from three-point range — helps the 6-2 guard lead Georgetown in scoring at 14.3 PPG.
• Avery Sullivan, sr., F, Pflugerville
The man in the middle for the Panthers’ high-octane squad, the 6-7 Lamar signee averages seven rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game while scoring in double digits for the 13-6A leader.
This group of underclassmen has made a difference for their respective teams:
Brian Batts, 6-0, soph., LBJ: After splitting time as the Jags’ starting QB during the football season, Batts averages 11.5 points and 3.4 assists for a deep and balanced squad ranked fourth in the state in Class 5A.
Greg Brown III, 6-7, fr., Vandegrift: The gifted freshman leads the Class 6A Vipers with 16.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.0 blocks a game.
D.J. Thorpe, 6-7, soph., Lake Travis: The son of former NBA standout Otis Thorpe plays like his father; D.J. Thorpe leads the playoff-contending Cavaliers in points and rebounds.
Sam Reaves, 6-3, soph., Thorndale: The young power forward gives the Class 2A Bulldogs a scoring threat in the paint with his average of 10.8 PPG.
Will Baker, 6-9, soph., Westlake: An old-school post player, Baker boasts quick feet and can score with either hand while giving the Chaparrals a reliable option on the block.
OFF TO THE RACES
As district play ramps up across the Austin area, here’s how some of the most competitive district races shape up:
• District 13-6A
Favorite: Pflugerville (3-0). Other contenders: Westwood (2-1), Hendrickson (2-2), Cedar Ridge (2-2), McNeil (1-3). Showdowns ahead: Pflugerville at Cedar Ridge, Friday; Pflugerville at Hendrickson, Jan. 20; McNeil at Cedar Ridge, Jan. 27.
• District 14-6A
Favorite: Del Valle (0-0, district play opens Friday). Other contenders: Bowie, San Marcos, Manor. Showdowns ahead: San Marcos at Manor, Friday; Del Valle at Bowie, Jan. 24; Bowie at Manor, Jan. 27.
• District 25-6A
Favorite: Westlake (3-0). Other contenders: Leander (3-0) Lake Travis (2-1), Vista Ridge (2-1). Showdowns ahead: Leander at Lake Travis, Friday; Lake Travis at Vista Ridge, Jan. 17; Vista Ridge at Westlake, Jan. 20.
• District 19-5A
Favorite: Georgetown (6-1). Other contenders: Connally (6-1), Rouse (5-2), Elgin (5-2). Showdowns ahead: Georgetown at Connally, Friday; Elgin at Georgetown, Jan 20; Connally at Elgin, Jan. 24; Georgetown at Rouse, Jan. 31.
• District 19-4A
Favorite: Lampasas (3-0). Other contenders: Liberty Hill (3-0), Burnet (3-1). Showdowns ahead: Liberty Hill at Lampasas, Friday; Burnet at Liberty Hill, Jan. 20; Burnet at Lampasas, Feb. 3.
(Records through Wednesday)
• Class 6A
1. Westlake (17-5)
2. Del Valle (15-5)
3. Vista Ridge (16-6)
4. Lake Travis (16-7)
5. Pflugerville (15-8)
• Class 5A
1. LBJ (13-4)
2. Georgetown (17-5)
3. Connally (18-5)
4. Rouse (17-8)
5. Reagan (12-9)
• Class 4A and below
1. Lampasas (15-2)
2. Jarrell (19-3)
3. Liberty Hill (13-10)
4. Burnet (13-6)
5. Thorndale (14-7)
Lanier G Davion Buster reached a milestone last week when he scored the 2,000th point of his high school career. The Vikings junior averaged 26.8 PPG last season while helping Lanier qualify for the UIL playoffs for the third straight year. Lanier coach Joseph Pendell says Buster has drawn recruiting interest from Baylor and Lamar among other college programs. … Cedar Park defeated Hutto 56-39 Tuesday despite the continued absence of Keaton Hervey, the American-Statesman’s All-Central Texas player of the year for 2015-16. Hervey, a senior who has signed with Incarnate Word, has been sidelined with a recurring foot injury, said Timberwolves coach Blake Brown. … Hendrickson’s 50-49 win over McNeil gave the Hawks their eighth win in their past 10 games. Hendrickson, 14-9 overall, improved to 2-1 in District 13-6A.
GAMES TO WATCH
Pflugerville at Cedar Ridge, 7:30 p.m.
Georgetown at Connally, 7 p.m.
Liberty Hill at Lampasas, 8 p.m.
Lake Travis at Vista Ridge, 7:30 p.m.
Reagan at Lanier, 8 p.m.