by Cason Broers
The 2009 – 2010 basketball season ended in disappointment for the district champion Eagles as they fell in the TAPPS 5A playoffs to San Antonio Antonian, 51-49, coming one shot short of advancing to the state tournament.
As tough a loss as it was, that is not stopping them from achieving their goal of a state championship this season. They played their ’09-10 campaign with some injuries, but their 26-14 overall record showed the team’s heart and determination.
While the team has improved, it will need to step up even more in order to fill the departure of starting power forward Chase Kammerer who graduated in May and now plays collegiately for the Air Force Academy. Junior guard and District MVP, Christian Sanders, 13th best junior in the city, and junior Jeremy King, 20th best junior in the city, will have major roles on the team.
“The team depends on how mentally tough Jeremy can be,” said head coach Danny Evans, who is entering his second year as the head coach. Sanders will also have to “step it up and lead this team,” Evans said.
King also believes the team has a chance to accomplish some good things.
“We’re gonna float like a butterfly and sting like a bee as long as we work hard and continue to make improvements,” King said.
This year also brings new hope and new faces to the team in junior transfers Chase Brogna, Cy Fair; Adam Drexler, Lamar; and Ryan Taylor, Lamar. Sharpshooting senior Ian Hurley returns to help lead the Eagles, and seniors, Chris Brown, Andrew Jones and Chris Voss, as well as juniors, Darnell Theriot and Patrick Keating will also see time this year.
The Eagles will face some steep competition, but Evans believes the team is ready for the challenge.
“I try to schedule the toughest games possible,” Evans said. “We don’t back down from anybody.”
The season tips off on Nov. 4 at The University of St. Thomas in the St. Thomas University Classic against some of the top private schools in the city. The Eagles finished second to HCYA in this event last year. They will also participate in three tournaments this December. Included is the South Padre Island Invitational, with a likely second round match-up against the 2010 National Champion and fellow Houston team, Yates High School. The other tournaments are the Brazosport ISD Tournament, a tournament that ended with a third place finish last year, and the annual HISD Tournament featuring some very good public and private schools throughout the Houston area.
As usual, the Eagles will face off against Strake Jesuit and Bellaire, both away, in non-district match-ups. Other non-district games include private school powerhouses Second Baptist and Westbury Christian, who both played in the TAPPS 4A State Championship game last year with Westbury Christian winning it all. Kinkaid, St. John’s, Lamar, Furr and C.E. King round out some of the other non-district games. The district will once again feature St. Pius, Beaumont Kelly and Houston Christian.
In preparation for the upcoming season, the Eagles feature two teams, red and white, in their own Fall League on Wednesday nights at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. Their opponents include district rival St. Pius, Second Baptist, Wheatley, Memorial, Spring Woods and Reagan.
“While they have played well,” Evans said, “I would like to see them be better defensively.”
While other coaches and teams may underestimate the Eagles, Evans thinks they will eat their words.
“Teams think we won’t be as good as we were last year, but when it comes down to it, they will have to reevaluate us,” Evans said.
Coming off of their perfect 6-0 district record, the Eagles will face some competition in trying for a repeat of their district title.
“St. Pius has some new kids, including our ex-player Carl Culberson,” Evans said.
When it comes to state, there are two big favorites the Eagles will have to contend with: Plano Prestonwood, who won the state title last season and finished second the year before, and San Antonio Antonian, who fell to Prestonwood in the semi-finals after their victory over St. Thomas last year.
In addition, Evans is asking for students from each grade level to help lead the student section – the Reckling Rowdies – during the basketball games. This dedicated rockin’ and rollin’ crowd provides a major home court advantage for the Eagles, as well as an intimidating force for some opponents to deal with.
With the start of the regular season just about a month away, things will be very interesting and exciting this year in Reckling Gymnasium on Tuesday and Friday nights. Every game played will be in preparation for the state tournament at the beginning of March when the Eagles will try to win their second state title in the last four years.