SportzBuzz - January 2014
With back-to-back SPC Championships under its belt, the Kinkaid Falcons girls basketball team is off and running to another sensational season.
In the first two weeks of the season, the Falcons defeated three of the state’s top 10 private schools, including Westbury Christian, Second Baptist and Concordia Lutheran. “The win over Concordia Lutheran was especially gratifying,” said Falcons head coach Stacey Marshall. “They’re a phenomenal team, and our girls made an incredible comeback in the final minute to win the game in overtime.” The Falcons are racking up victories behind a talented lineup that includes senior guard Brecca Thomas, who’ll play at the University of Colorado next year. “Brecca is our team leader,” said Marshall. “She’s a great scorer and just a tremendous overall player.” Meantime, junior forward Tyjae Scales has been a dominant force for the Falcons, averaging 12 rebounds and 10 points a game. In addition, Marshall describes Raevyn Rogers as a key defensive stopper while Frances Andrews, Kristen Moore, Cynthia Ormiston and Tyra Collins are experienced back-court players who are all excellent shooters. Plus, youth is served quite well for the Falcons with a pair of outstanding freshmen players in Alexis Johnson and Chinaza Ndee.
With a No . 5 statewide ranking one month into the season, St. Agnes Academy also boasted one of the state’s best private school basketball teams. The Tigers returned several of their top players from a team that advanced to the TAPPS 5A State Semifinals, including 6’2” senior sensation Michelle Nwokedi. Nwokedi, who’ll play collegiately at Pennsylvania, is averaging a lofty 22 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks a game.
“The amazing thing about Michelle,” said Tigers head coach Jeff Hollinger, “is that even though she’s 6’2” tall we play her at guard. She can do it all on the court.” Meanwhile, the Tigers’ lineup also includes another 6’2” player in senior Lexi Onigbanjo, who averages nine points, nine rebounds and two blocks a game. Aside from the twin towers in Nwokedi and Onigbanjo, the Tigers feature a talented senior trio of guards in Ava Ring, Corinne Kelly and Marissa English. “Ava sets the pace for us and is one of the quickest guards in the city,” said Hollinger. “All three of those girls play a lot of minutes and are huge contributors.” With those big contributions, the Tigers have more than held their own against some of the state’s premier public school programs, even finishing third overall in the 32-team Corpus Christi Riviera Roundup tournament. “It was a top-notch field of public school teams, and that was a great showing for us,” said Hollinger. The Tigers’ only loss was a close game to San Antonio Reagan, which is ranked in the state top 10 in UIL Class 5A basketball.
The volleyball season may be over and done with, but there are plenty of great things to look back on and look forward to for Duchesne Academy. Under first-year head coach Leon Blazer, Duchesne posted a 14-8 record while advancing to the second round of the state playoffs. The playoff victory capped off an amazing turnaround season for a program that won only one game against 15 defeats just last season. It also marked the school’s best volleyball season since back in 1993. “I knew coming in we had to change the culture of the program. The drive and desire to be successful in recent years just wasn’t there to be competitive,” said Blazer. “I stressed to the girls that this isn’t last year’s team, and they took it to heart. We had some great comeback victories early in the season, and the girls started to believe in themselves.”
The other big thing, said Blazer, was developing a system around the team’s biggest strength, which just happened to be outside hitter Nenye Okoro. Okoro, who’ll play Division 1 volleyball at St. Louis University, accounted for about 50 percent of the team’s kills this season. “She can kill the ball at any opportunity,” said Blazer. “Her kill percentage was unreal, and we had put ourselves in position to get her the ball whenever possible.” Blazer also credited the senior leadership of middle blocker Madelyn Eastham and outside hitter Katie Johnson for the team’s incredible turnaround. “To get the rest of the team on board I had to reach out to our seniors. They set great examples and provided invaluable leadership.” Editor’s Note: Todd Freed is the Emmy Award-winning co-host and producer of the KUBE SportsZone, which airs Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. on Channel 57-KUBE. To submit high school sports news for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please email [email protected].
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