Boys basketball: Mavs making progress
Pasadena Memorial was 7-7 going into this week — the latest it's still been at .500 in school history.
The Mavericks are hoping that translates into a breakthrough February. They've never made the playoffs and have struggled to win any games the past two seasons after coming close in 2007-08.
"That would be really good," Memorial coach David Bosley said. "I'd be really happy for the kids and just the program overall.
"The football team has had a lot of success here, and we have kids who play multiple sports and do a lot of things, but that would get some of our underclassmen, and even some of the feeder schools, a lot more anxious about investing in basketball at an earlier age."
The Mavericks won nine games last season and just six the year before after post Shane Hamaker led them to a fourth-place finish in district in 2007-08, when they lost a playoff tiebreaker.
"The last couple of years we've had some decent teams we just didn't match up too well with the La Portes and Pearlands, and Dobie and Deer Park, some of the teams that were in our district," Bosley said.
The Mavs won 13 games in 2007-08, a number they're more than halfway to this week despite graduating eight seniors, including key players in Aaron Espinosa, Kyle Rogers and Ryan Gemmill.
That has Bosley feeling good about his team's chances of a top-four district finish and historic first playoff appearance, especially since UIL realignment removed Pearland and La Porte from 22-5A.
"This year our district looks a lot more kind to us," Bosley said. "Pearland moved out, La Porte moved out of our district play. We have a six-team district, and I think our talent level this year is a little bit higher than it was the last couple of years."
Memorial returned just four players: senior point guard Byron Terrell, junior post Allan Grace, junior guard/forward Brady Toler and sophomore G/F Justin Durbin. But they've all played well so far.
Terrell, Grace and Toler started several games last season and Durbin was pulled up from the freshman team for district.
"We had a lot of kids who got some experience last year who are helping us significantly this year," Bosley said.
Terrell has been the team's best player. His leadership on the defensive end is key. The Mavs are pressing a lot, then falling back in man or zone in halfcourt, and Terrell forcing a lot of turnovers.
"He's our primary ballhandler and he's been doing a real good job of controlling the tempo, getting some shot opportunities for himself and also setting up his teammates," Bosley said.
Grace, at 6-foot-6, and Toler, who leads the team in rebounding, have been effective in the paint.
"(Grace) is much improved from last year," Bosley said. "He's one of the hardest working kids that I've ever coached. He's a pretty solid kid, will score around the bucket, and he's not afraid to mix it up a little bit and be physical on the defensive end."
Key newcomers include reserve P Anthony Christ, senior backup PG/SG Jerry Sanchez, a move-in from Sam Rayburn, senior G/F John Bautista and junior G/F Chris Bostic, a defensive specialist.
With so many new faces, Memorial started 0-4, losing its first three games at the McDonald's Texas Invitational after dropping the opener to Dulles.
"Dulles ended up being a (24)-point game, but those other three games were all winnable for us," Bosley said. "We had a lot of beginning-of-the-year jitters, where we were just making a lot of unforced mistakes."
They turned the season around with a five-game winning streak, including wins over Dawson and Friendswood.
"It was good to get a five-game win streak in," Bosley said. "That was a huge confidence builder for our kids going into the (Clear Creek) ISD tournament."
At that tourney, Memorial lead talented Clear Springs 44-33 after three quarters before losing 57-55. Springs went on to beat La Marque, one of the top Class 4A teams in the state.
The Mavericks open District 22-5A play Jan. 14 against Rayburn.
"Having a week off (last week) our big focus is on fundamentals," Bosley said. "We have really good sets and plays and systems in place that the kids understand fairly well.
"It's going to come down how well we rebound, how well we can defend, if we set solid screens and make hard cuts, so the fundamentals of the game our going to determine our success."
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