Tuesday night marked the official end of Galveston County high school basketball for the 2017-18 season, as the final teams standing — Hitchcock and La Marque — were eliminated from the playoffs in the regional quarterfinals.
However, there are already a few teams that should already have their respective fan bases excited for next season, and in some cases even beyond that.
Chief among these is the La Marque Cougars boys basketball team, who, despite a dearth of experience won a co-district championship, went three rounds deep into the postseason and nearly took down a 35-1 East Chambers team in their regional quarterfinal playoff game Tuesday.
Most observers expected little from the Coogs this season after they graduated the core group of Raymond Stubblefield, Jauron Freeman and LaDerrious Arvie that led La Marque to two state semifinal appearances and a regional final appearance.
But, a sophomore group consisting of guards Jordan Ivy-Curry, Jeremy Arvie and Edward Robinson and forward Willie Johns played beyond their age to defy the odds.
With this promising group returning for not just one, but two more years, it should be interesting to see how the Cougars fare as they hold on to the memory of their tough loss to East Chambers as future motivation. Next season, La Marque will move up from Class 3A to Class 4A in a small but top-to-bottom competitive district featuring Bay City, Brazosport, Columbia and Sweeny.
Another local boys basketball team to keep an eye on will be the Dickinson Gators, whose trio of outstanding guards (which includes the county’s most heavily recruited player) all return next season.
Sophomores Tramon Mark (who began receiving Division I offers as a freshman) and Deuce Guidry and junior Quante Julien, along with starting junior post Jalen Wydermyer could have Dickinson primed for a breakout postseason run next year, following a second-round exit two seasons ago and a first-round exit this season.
On the girls’ side, two intriguing teams next season could be Clear Creek and Clear Falls. Like the La Marque boys team, both Clear Creek and Clear Falls only graduate one senior from this year’s roster, so both will be chock full of players who should be over this season’s growing pains.
What will be interesting will be to see if that will be enough for either team to close the gap on District 24-6A powerhouse Clear Springs, which graduates its best two players — guards Dymond Gladney and Taylor Singleton — from this year’s roster.
Next year, both Clear Creek and Clear Falls will be led by returning all-district guards: first-team sophomore Kyndal Johnson for the Wildcats and second-team sophomore Lauryn Small for the Knights.