Oilers starting out on winning track

PEARLAND — The Pearland Oilers have an early 9-4 mark to begin the 2016 basketball season and have won four out of their past five non-district games.

Longtime Pearland head coach Steve Buckelew hopes to challenge for the District 23-6A crown, but he will find some stiff competition with cross-town rival Dawson and a new district featuring the Alief schools, Elsik, Hastings, and Taylor. Also George Ranch and Brazoswood will be in the mix.

The Oilers are coming off two recent wins over traditionally strong Clear Creek (59-50) and a lop-sided win over Pasadena Dobie (81-35).

Against Clear Creek, Pearland had a close game in the first three quarters, but used the final stanza to pull out the victory.

Pearland was up 14-13 after the opening eight minutes and led 29-26 at intermission.

The game continued to be close as both teams finished at 12-12 at the end of the third period leaving the Oilers with a slim 41-38 lead.

The fourth quarter proved to be the difference as the Oilers closed out the Wildcats 18-12 to claim the 59-50 non-district victory.

Pearland got strong offensive production out of Kelyn Adams who led the way with 13 points followed by Kenneth Brown and Javen Hedgeman who both tossed in 12 points each.

Adams also had seven rebounds while Brown had six and Cody Oduntan added five boards.

Buckelew is very optimistic regarding the new season and believes his team will be in the mix to challenge for the league title and to advance to the post-season.

"We've got a lot of guys that are very versatile," Buckelew said. "They can all guard big guys, but they also have perimeter skills."

Buckelew will be looking to three returning starters in 6-3 Javen Hedgeman, 6-3 Colen James, and 6-3 Kelyn Adams.

"If we play together and in our system, we will contend for the district title," Buckelew said. "We won't be an easy victory for anybody in district, but I do think, hands down, that Dawson is the favorite.

"We won 23 games two years ago and 21 last year, but we went 9-7 in district both years and we have to shake that."

One of the things really missing the last couple of years was seeing Pearland play "Buck Ball."

That means that the Oilers always displayed a pressing, smothering defense in past years, but that hasn't been quite as strong the last couple of seasons.

"We're going back to the old school Pearland defense where we pick you up at half-court," Buckelew said. "I thought it worked great in our scrimmages before the season started.

So far -- the Oilers seem to be on track for a playoff season.

"When we come out and get after it, we can play with anyone," Buckelew said. "When we don't, we can lose to anyone. This team has super potential. We just need to perform consistently as we have ball skills, and athleticism."