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Boys Basketball Preview: What District Holds in Store for Howe, Van Alstyne

Van Alstyne's Bailey Thorpe
Van Alstyne's Bailey Thorpe
Howe's Griffin Underwood (4) blocks a shot
Howe's Griffin Underwood (4) blocks a shot

In the Dec. 13 issue of the Leader we went out on a limb with our predictions on the outcome of the girls’ basketball races in District 11-2A and 12-2A.

This week we figuratively, not literally, go out on an icicle to determine winners and losers in the boys’ races.

As usual, these suggestions are for my entertainment only and, just like any other investment, losses are possible.

The top three teams from district 12-2A last season were Farmersville, Sunnyvale and Leonard.

The Farmers finished with a record of 28-5, losing to Brock in the area round of the state playoffs. Brock went on to the state finals, losing to White Oak, 56-54.

After compiling the school’s best record in the last 10 years, Farmersville will have a new coach at the helm for the 2013-14 season. Kendrick Broadus will be the third Farmersville boys’ basketball coach in the past three seasons.

Farmersville has played just four games this season. A combination of football and winter weather has kept the Farmers off the court until recently and where they finish in this season’s 12-2A campaign is anyone’s guess.

Oh, that’s right, it’s my guess.

Stay tuned to this article for our surprise decision about the Farmers. (Note- this is called a tease.)

Call us a homer if you will, but our pick to win it all this season will be the Panthers.

In his second year in charge of Van Alstyne boys’ hoops, coach Russell Best is putting a run-and-gun team on the floor that has many similarities with the Jose Recer-coached Van Alstyne team that won 30 games in the 2005-06 season.

Coach Best has 14 or 15 players on his team and all can shoot the rock from downtown. Senior Zach Davis and junior Colin McCaskill have been the offensive leaders of this team so far, but they get capable help from all parts of the roster. The Panthers’ weakness is the same that plagues the Miami Heat — a big team in the post will give them trouble.

The Indiana Pacers don’t play in District 12-2A, so our pick still stands.

Second place in the district will be a toss-up between Sunnyvale and Leonard.

We have absolutely no advance information about Sunnyvale as they keep things on the down-low in those parts.

Leonard was still involved with football late and so they have had little exposure in the 2013-14 season. The Tigers football season ended on Dec. 14.

The top four teams make the postseason now in Class 2A basketball, and we think Farmersville will beat out Gunter for that final playoff berth.

Pilot Point and Caddo Mills compete the lineup in District 12-2A

So, write it down, Van Alstyne, Sunnyvale (or Leonard) and Farmersville.

Whitesboro, Pottsboro and Howe finished 1-2-3 in District 11-2A last season and, although the Bearcats lost two of their better inside players from that campaign, we expect Whitesboro to repeat as district champs.

Ryan Schuessler, the league’s MVP last season, Newcomer of the Year, Hayden Nikirk and Defensive Player of the Year Collin Kilcrease all return for the Bearcats. Plus, head coach Toby Sluder wants to avenge last year’s area round loss to Peaster.

Whitewright is our narrow choice for second place and our decision is based mainly on the presence of junior big-man Mason Riggins. Riggins, a first-team all-district pick last season along with Dane Robinson and Jefferson Ballard, has some game and we think the Tigers can survive a battle with Pottsboro for the second spot. The Tigers will have to avoid injury as they have only nine players on their varsity roster.

The Cardinals have a very young team coming back and our reasoning for placing the Birds in third was strictly history. Coach Russell Ratliff is starting his eighth year at the school and, although he has to replace three starters off of his runner-up squad from last year, we think the depth is there.

That fourth playoff spot will be a battle.

Howe needs to learn to finish games to be in contention for the final playoff spot. The Bulldogs have gone into the closing periods of several games, either with leads or within a few points, only to come apart due to a lack of experience.

Brice Harvey and John Jacob Talley are a talented duo down in the block, while Easton Ross and Michael Kehrer have shown skills on the perimeter.

Howe could emerge as the fourth team, the key being how the Bulldogs perform against Bells, Tom Bean, Callisburg and S&S.

Our call is — drum roll, please — Whitesboro, Whitewright, Pottsboro and Howe.

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