New format gives everyone a shot at playoffs

Impressive predistrict records leaves field wide open

College Station’s Jay Payton (center) will try to drive College Station to the playoffs in its second season of play. 
Eagle/DaveMcDermand College Station’s Jay Payton (center) will try to drive College Station to the playoffs in its second season of play. Eagle/DaveMcDermand I f the records of the top half of the District 18-3A field is any indication, the race for the four playoff spots is going to be treacherous.

While the girls portion of the bracket has already begun, the boys top off Friday with a full schedule of contests.

Defending champion Navasota (14-2) has given no indication that the Rattlers are prepared to give up the crown without a fight and are ranked No. 22 in Class 3A.

Along with the Rattlers, College Station (18-6), Taylor (17-4) and Rockdale (13-3) have posted sparkling pre-district records which might make for an interesting league rumble.

Madisonville and Taylor were the two other playoff representatives behind Navasota last season.

In its first season of competition, College Station just missed out on that third playoff place and Rockdale—after making its first playoff appearance in 15 years two seasons ago—finished fifth.

At 14-3, the Tigers have already improved on last season’s 11-16 record. Navasota’s only loss was to Waco LaVega in the regional quarterfinals—the third straight season they have been stopped there. The Rattlers must replace three, three-year starters, but return the district’s offensive MVP Jerbrell Lipscomb, a 6-foot junior.

Madisonville lost out in bi-district last season and returns three starters, including newcomer of the year Clarketh Wiley.

Surprising Taylor fought through injuries and a losing record (15-20) to reach the playoffs and feature eight seniors on this season’s roster to replace the nine that graduated.

Six-four senior My’Like Kerley heads a tall Taylor team that likes to push the ball up court and has been averaging 73 points a game so far.

College Station—made up of freshmen and sophomores a year ago—will have one year’s experience under it’s belt and conversely one season better and has already racked up 18 wins.

Jay Payton—all 5-foot-4 of him—leads the Cougars in scoring at 16.7 with five assists and three steals.

Six-four Ryan Johnson handles the inside at 13.3 and 8.1 boards.

Under new coach Quentin Morgan, Caldwell counts on senior leadership from 6-3 senior Sha’Garius Harrison (11.3 ppg) and 6-2 senior J.J. Jackson (9.4 ppg, 7.5 rebs).

The Tigers host College Station in their opener Friday, while Taylor travels to Navasota and Caldwell is at Madisonville.


College Station (13-5) had been ranked No. 25 in the state in Class 3A before its district opening loss to defending champion Madisonville.

The Lady Cougars are led by freshman guard Raenett Hughes (11.7 ppg) and junior post Courtney Sumlin. Navasota is 7-2 and hasn’t lost since Nov. 22 to Class 5A Bryan.

The Lady Rattlers graduated five seniors, but bring back 5-foot-11 sophomore Teshyra Banks, who was newcomer of the year (10 ppg, 11 rebs).

Defending district champion Madisonville is 9-9 and stopped a three-game losing streak with a league opening, 52-32, come-from-behind win over College Station.

The Lady Mustangs are looking for a replacement for graduated district MVP Lisa Nealy, and have a likely one in returning district offensive MVP, 5-foot-9 junior Tootie Nealy.

Caldwell (4-14) has dropped 10 straight and are averaging just 29 points an outing.

The Lady Hornets are driven by 5-foot-5 senior point guard Dominique Rogers (8.1 ppg) and have four players over 5-foot-10.

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