Friendswood roundballers ready to compete in district action

FRIENDSWOOD — The Friendswood boys and girls basketball teams are already ahead of where they were a year ago at this time of the season as boys head coach Cliff Owens and girls head coach Daron Scott are both doing a tremendous job of guiding their respective teams for the 2017-2018 basketball campaigns.

The boys made the post-season last year, but the girls didn't as District 24-6A is one of the tougher leagues in the Houston area with traditional powers Clear Lake, Clear Creek, Dickinson, Clear Springs, and Clear Falls being the teams to beat.

Friendswood Mustangs

Friendswood head coach Cliff Owens saw his team finish 15-16 overall last season and fourth place in the tough District 24-6A standings. But his team still advanced to the post-season losing to the Dawson Eagles 49-35 in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

However, Owens has been encouraged with the early showing of the Mustangs for the 2017-2018 season as they presently have an 13-6 overall mark and are gaining positive momentum when the 24-6A league action begins.

Friendswood has four returning starters in guard Alex Dehoyos, who has demonstrated his strong offensive skills as the team's leading scorer. Also returning is guard Tanner Bandini, forward Jake Yurachek, and forward Reid Nickerson.

Owens also looks to get outstanding play from Elijah Martinez who joins Dehoyos and Bandini as three-year varsity players.

Other players that are playing a strong role in this year's team include: Mark Ranostaj, Gracen McGregor, Ian Bivins, Zach Zamora, Westin Menchaca, Ben Redding, Ben McAndrews, Austin Alvarez, and Cole Kelly.

"So far this season I am seeing good guard play and good rebounding," Owens said. "Things we are trying to improve on is finishing around the rim and taking care of the ball. We have a deep and experienced team looking to make a run in our last time in 6A.

Owens is referring to Friendswood's drop to 5A when the UIL realigns for the next two years.

Friendswood Lady Mustangs

As the Friendswood Lady Mustangs entered this season, head coach Daron Scott want his girls to put last year in the rear view mirror and look forward to the 2017-2018 basketball campaign.

Friendswood finished 7-21 last season, but they have already surpassed that win total with an 8-7 mark.

"If take care of the ball, we are usually successful," Scott said. "Our achilles is turning the ball over too much. When we turn those possessions into shot attempts, we are pretty good."

The Lady Mustangs are still a young team as Scott is depending on sophomore guard Nicole Nash who averaged just over 10 points last season as a freshman. She also has the ability to make the three-pointers and is a crafty defender.

Senior shooting guard Priya Ponia averaged 12 points a year ago and also play defense well.

Senior post Sara Aamodt is strong inside and is a rebounding force as well as a great leader.

Junior Kinsey Cole is another returning starter that Scott is depending on to help improve the Lady Mustangs this season.

Other girls that Scott will be depending on include: Sami Page, Hannah Fogg, Ashlyn Mason, Nicole Mbibi, Emily Crespo, Brooke Augustine, Averi Jones, and Ashley Massar.

Scott considers Clear Springs to be the favorite to win the 24-6A title with Clera Lake and Clear Falls as the other two schools in the mix for the top three playoff spots.

However, the fourth slot for the post-season could be Clear Creek, Alvin, or Friendswood according to Scott.

District 24-6A action began last week and Friendswood had to face area power Clear Springs in the district opener for both school.

The Lady Mustangs came up short 63-54, but Friendswood made the Lady Chargers work to get the win.

Clear Springs scored 11 unanswered points to start the game. Later in the first quarter, the Lady Chargers led 15-2 and ended the opening frame up 22-7.

Friendswood refused to be overwhelmed, though, and began to chip away at the Clear Springs lead in the second quarter.

"It's something definitely to learn from — that, barring the first three minutes, you can play with that team," Scott said. "And that's exactly what they did. So, I'm proud of them."

Nash scored a game-high 21 points, including 6 from beyond the arc that got the Lady Mustangs to within seven points in the second quarter. But that would be as close as Friendswood would get.

Kinsey Cole (12 points) and Sara Aamodt (8 points, eight rebounds) were also solid in the paint.

Though the Lady Mustangs may have lost to the Lady Chargers, they proved they are much improved and will be very competitive in district competition.

"I see this team growing, developing, some of the younger players are coming along," Scott said. "I thought our girls really battled. They showed a lot of heart."