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Sam Houston was getting it all together as the District 27-5A season reached the halfway mark.
The Hurricanes (13-13, 6-2) were never at full strength in their three tournaments before district, as senior captains Kaliyah Brown, Khadija Derry and Levolea Wallace each took their turns battling injuries. With a 42-37 decision over Jefferson (10-16, 4-4) Jan. 10, Sam Houston won its third-consecutive game and rose to a second-place tie with Edison (18-6, 6-2).
“There were good wins,” Sam Houston coach Marchae Woods said. “We were down 19-2 against Edison, and couldn’t come back. But then we were down 20-6 against Lanier and found a way to fight back. That was definitely encouraging, that they learned from the last game and applied it to the next game.”
A priority against rapidly improving Jefferson, which Brackenridge (12-13, 4-4) and Lanier (15-11, 4-4), was playing tight defense on Mustangs senior standout Leah McGrew. Wallace and Derry shared the defensive duties.
“(McGrew) does a really good job,” Woods said. “She has the ability to score inside and out, she can handle the ball and she has a size advantage.”
Wallace, who scored seven points, was the primary defender. McGrew, Eliana Rocha and Madison Guzman each scored seven for the Mustangs.
“Levolea is very versatile,” Woods said. “She’s able to match up with different styles of players. Deja’s quick and athletic. She could get under (McGrew) a little bit. Levolea is big enough to battle her.”
Derry was Sam Houston’s leading scorer with 11 points. Jazmine Spencer produced nine points and Brown added seven.
“I think we did a good job of moving the ball and limiting their key players,” Woods said. “We made plays when we needed to. In the last two minutes, after Khadija fouled out, being able to manage the clock like we did was very helpful.”
With Derry and Brown in their fourth varsity seasons and Wallace stepping forward offensively to complement her defense, the Hurricanes have a solid core that has helped bring their younger players along. Woods described multi-sport athlete Wallace as a vocal leader, Derry as teaching teammates how to do things and Brown filling a big-sister role.
“We have quite a few kids back, but we also have quite a few new kids,” Woods said. “Those kids may not all be ready to compete now, but (the captains) are putting them in a position where they can help next year.”
Burbank 64, Brackenridge 56
The Bulldogs (11-13, 3-5) remained within striking distance of the District 27-5A leaders with an upset win over rival Brackenridge Jan. 10 at Lanier.
Ariana Zapata (19 points, 8 rebounds) and Valerie Navarro-Cavazos (17 points) led Burbank. Julie Torres (11 points, 4 steals) was a key contributor. Jade Williams pulled down 14 rebounds.
Brackenridge was led by Lily Zamora with 18 points. Genesis Teran and Skye Thomas each scored 13.
McCollum 52, Memorial 23
The Cowboys (11-15, 3-5) won its second-consecutive District 26-5A game, defeating Memorial (3-22, 0-8) Jan. 10 at Edgewood Gym.
Joslyn Ortega led McCollum’s balanced lineup with eight points. Cierra Ovalle added six.
Madelyn Mozqueda led the Minutemen with six points.