SportzBuzz - May 2023
It was a season of major milestones for the Lamar Texans girls soccer team including its first win over rival Bellaire Cardinals since 2013 and later capped off by the Texans first playoff victory since the 2010 season.
“It was such a sense of relief when we finally beat Bellaire,” said Lamar head coach Guy Nell. “To see the joy in our girls’ faces really put into perspective how much the victory meant to everyone. The seniors hadn’t defeated Bellaire in [their] four years and witnessing their reaction made the moment even more special. You train so hard all season, and this type of victory validates all the hard work and sacrifice.”
Along with capturing its first district championship since 2012, Lamar then defeated Cy Creek by a 2-1 overtime final for its first playoff victory in 13 years. “It was really huge to get that playoff win,” said Nell. “Lamar was a powerhouse in soccer back in the early 2000s, so getting back to that type of status is one of our goals. Our seniors have helped set the foundation for this program to build on moving forward.”
With a 17-5-3 record this season, the Texans were led offensively by high scoring junior Jojo Pastore and freshman Nahomy Portillo. Even while missing six of the Texans’ 24 games, Pastore scored a lofty 18 goals with five assists while Portillo accounted for 20 goals and 12 assists on the season.
On defense, Nell had high praise for senior center back Ali Germann as well as the entire Texans’ defensive unit. “We were the best defensive team in the district allowing only 18 goals in 24 games. Also, our two freshmen goal keepers, Abbi Agosta and Chloe Rosales, both had sensational seasons.”
In basketball, the St. Thomas Eagles advanced to the TAPPS 6A State Semifinals for the first time since 2011. “I was really proud of how our team came together over the course of the season and also thrilled that we could send our seniors out on such a high note,” said Eagles head coach Karnell James.
With 26 victories against just three defeats, the Eagles posted the most wins in school history while also winning its first district championship in seven years. In addition, the Eagles were undefeated at home, while defeating and sweeping perennial powerhouse Concordia Lutheran for the first time in seven seasons.
“The great thing about our team was that we were so balanced with several starters scoring 10-12 points per game,” said James. Those starters including 6’7” senior standout Jake Pike, who will play college basketball at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. “Jake has been on varsity all four years and when I took over the program his sophomore season, he talked about taking this program to a whole new level.”
Other major contributors included junior point guard J’mar Franklin, senior post player Michael Oaks, and junior guard Aron Valentine. “J’mar was the catalyst of our team and the top player in the district while Aron and Michael also had tremendous seasons,” said James.
With an epic double overtime 81-78 victory over rival Episcopal Knights, the Houston Christian Mustangs captured the SPC 4A Basketball Championship. “Everybody in the basketball community wants to come out and see us play Episcopal because they know something special is probably going to happen,” said Houston Christian head coach Ron Crandall. “The championship game was simply frenetic and intense but at the same time we were focused. We talked about having a level of grit all year long.”
The Mustangs were led by a sensational game from sophomore Montana Wheeler, who scored 24 points in the victory. “It was a dream come true,” said Wheeler, whose older brother Sahvir won two SPC Championships while at Houston Christian. “To follow in my brother’s footsteps and finally get a championship is just an awesome feeling. I credit all of this to my teammates – without them, nothing is possible.”
Mustangs junior Carter Seeliger had 15 points to go with 20 rebounds in the championship victory, while junior Christopher Adlan added 15 points with 15 rebounds and senior Chance Thalmann connected on series of huge three-point buckets late in regulation and in the overtime periods.
“We have players who can do everything on our team,” said Seeliger. “Guys who can shoot the ball and score at will along with guys who are a force down low. We all worked together with grit and determination to pull out the win. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
Editor’s note: Todd Freed is the host and executive producer of H-Town High School Sports, which airs Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on CW39 and Monday-Thursday on AT&T SportsNet SW. To submit high school sports news for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please email [email protected].
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