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SportzBuzz - February 2016

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Preston Heard

Episcopal Knights senior quarterback Preston Heard captured major post-season honors by winning the Houston Private School Offensive Player of the Year award, presented by the Touchdown Club of Houston. (Photo: Kevin Long/Gulf Coast Shots)

In the wake of a spectacular senior season, senior quarterback Preston Heard captured major post-season honors as the Houston Private School Offensive Player of the Year. The award was given by the Touchdown Club of Houston at its fourth annual Private High School Awards Dinner.

“Preston is the ultimate gamer,” said Episcopal head football coach Steve Leisz. “When the game is on the line, you want the ball in Preston’s hands. He’s just a really smart kid and incredible leader.”  Another big honor for Episcopal went to Gio Pancotti, who shared the Houston Lineman of the Year award with St. Thomas Eagles senior Charlie Vatterott. Pancotti, who will play college football at Texas Tech, played in the recent Offense-Defense All-American Bowl on ESPN.

As for Vatterott, he was one of two St. Thomas players to receive major awards at the banquet, with Eagles senior David Jones winning the Ironman of the Year award. “Both David and Charlie were a phenomenal part of our program at St. Thomas,” said Eagles head coach Tim Fitzpatrick. “As an offensive tackle, Charlie gave us all-out effort from snap to whistle. He consistently protected our quarterback and made key blocks to spring our running backs.”

Meanwhile, Jones rarely came off the field for St. Thomas, playing defensive back, wide receiver and punter, while also returning punts and kickoffs. “When we needed David on the field, he was out there,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s a well-deserved honor. David’s a great athlete, excellent student and just a tremendous young man.”

On the topic of prestigious football honors, Stratford Spartans senior safety Fischer Robinson is the recipient of the Greater Houston Scholar Athlete of the Year Award. The award was also handed out by the Touchdown Club of Houston. “It’s a huge honor,” said Robinson, who shares valedictorian honors at Stratford, where he is ranked No. 1 in his senior class. Robinson is also on pace to graduate with a perfect GPA. “There were some amazing scholar-athlete nominees. It was truly humbling to win this award.”

Amanda McCloskey

Senior Amanda McCloskey is among the top returning players for the Memorial Mustangs this season. The defending district co-champions were in pursuit of the program’s 20th consecutive playoff berth.

With 10 starters returning from last year’s playoff squad, the Memorial Mustangs girls basketball team is enjoying another successful season. “We’re playing really well,” said Mustangs head coach Jyusef Larry. “We beat a Cy Falls team that knocked us out of the playoffs last year,  so that was a nice victory for our program. This is an experienced team that knows each other’s strengths on the court.”

The Mustangs are especially strong at the guard position with the dynamic duo of twin sisters Kelsey and Courtney Slattery. “Kelsey is a great defender who does whatever we need on the court,” said Coach Larry. “She’s a senior captain and tremendous leader.” Meanwhile, twin sister Courtney has established herself as an outstanding shooter, even breaking a school record by connecting on eight 3-point shots in one game.

The Mustangs offense is also ignited by sophomore point guard Grace Yochum. “Grace makes everyone else’s  job easier when she’s on the court,” said Coach Larry. “She really makes everything go for us.” Down low, the Mustangs are led by senior post player Amanda McCloskey, who Coach Larry says is the Mustangs’ top defender and rebounder. “We’ve been in the playoffs for 19 straight years, but our last playoff win was back in 2005. Hopefully, this is the group that’ll get us that post-season victory,” added the coach.

With key victories over Lamar and Westside to open up district play, the Bellaire Cardinals boys basketball team looked to be well on its way to securing a 14th consecutive playoff berth, with seven district titles along the way. “We have a rock-solid program,” said Bruce Glover, who has coached the Cardinals to all 13 of those playoff berths.

This year’s team is led by a talented trio of juniors, including guard Maxwell Evans, who averages 20 points, five rebounds and five assists a game. Also, six-foot-six post player Jaden Pevy, who was a standout defensive end in football, is contributing 15 points and 10 rebounds a game. Isaac Allen is averaging 10 points and three assists a night for the Cardinals. 

“We lost some great players from last year’s team, but these guys are really learning their roles,” said Glover, “and it has the makings of a really good season for us.”

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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