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Young Cougar team looks to continue success

November 12, 2018

A playoff appearance was sweet for the Cougars last year — now they have to build on it.

The Crosby boys basketball team made the playoffs last season for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. They finished the season 26-7 and went 15-3 in district play.

“After being out of the playoffs for a few years, it’s always great to be there,” said coach Edwin Egans. “Each kid kind of embraces having everybody engulfed in the excitement, so I think making the playoffs was a step back into where we were as a program.”

Crosby had advanced to the regional semifinals in 2012-2013, its third consecutive season of winning at least one playoff game.

The Cougars look to build on that step in their 2018-2019 season.

“The whole summer we’re in here,” said senior Caleb Bernardez. “We’re on the court. We spent a lot of time in the weight room. A whole lot of work goes into getting better in every aspect of the game.”

He said the team’s opening scrimmages against Willis and Aldine and against The Woodlands felt good, that it gave the players a good chance to see how they play in a game environment.

The team graduated four of its leading scorers and five of its top seven scorers from last season, a first team All-District player and three second team All-District players,

“We’re so young,” said Egans. “We might have six sophomores on varsity that are going to get major minutes plus a junior who didn’t play a whole lot, so we’re very inexperienced but very hard-working.”

The Cougars are returning their second leading scorer from last season, sophomore Kaleb Stewart, a first team All-District player as a freshman.

“Having him gives us a great chance to reset our talent; it gives us direction,” said Egans. “It gives us a calmness to where we can go about our business and do some things, but, even in his own right, he’s still kind of green. We need to lean on him and put him in a position where he can lead, but, if he doesn’t play well, we can still win games.”

Egans thinks versatility is one of the team’s biggest strengths. He said they have several players who could play multiple positions, who can handle the ball well and shoot the ball well.

“Kaleb is going to be the lead point guard for us, but there are times of the game where I feel very comfortable with [sophomore] Josh Metoyer coming in and him being the point [guard] or [sophomore] Deniquez Dunn running the point and moving Kaleb off the ball. We can honestly play five guards, but they play strong for their size as well so I don’t think it hurts as much.”

Stewart said he wants to improve his skills this season, that everybody is improving and he doesn’t want to fall behind.

The other one of Crosby’s top scorers who didn’t graduate is senior Jaiden Howard.

Howard, who is also the quarterback of the football team, was injured in the Sept. 28 game against Vidor and has not played since.

Egans said fans should not expect to see Howard on the court at any point this season.

Due to UIL realignment, Crosby has some new district opponents in Ball, Friendswood, Galena Park, Goose Creek Memorial, Santa Fe, and Texas City.

Egans acknowledged that the lack of familiarity with these new opponents presents a challenge but said that, with technology and scouting reports these days, the effect is minimized.

The basketball team will get Dunn and fellow sophomore Jaylen Herman from the football team.

“Some guys are talented enough to be able to play multiple sports, but the difference with these guys is they have a strong passion for basketball and chose to play football,” Egans said. “They’re basketball players at heart. I don’t think they’ve ever stopped playing even when they were in football; they’re guys who are going to play at the parks. The transition is tough for some players, but, it’s not going to be a difficult adjustment at all for those two guys.”

Egans stressed the importance of community support for the team’s success.

“In a one-high school town, if you can cause excitement for the community, it rallies behind you,” he said. “It makes everybody feel good, so we understand the impact that we can have in a positive way, and these kids really are embracing that. They’re putting their time in and working hard to try to fulfill that so the community can rally behind us, and hopefully they will when we have success.”

After playing some tournaments and pre-season games, Crosby begins district play at home against Galena Park on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

You can follow the Crosby Cougar basketball team on Twitter: @CrosbyHoops

elliott.lapin@hearst.com

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