Five storylines heading into the UIL boys playoffs
Gruver’s Jalin Conyers is back in the postseason for a fourth straight year. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
1. All eyes on Gruver
No question Class 2A has its fair share of dangerous contenders in Region I — Clarendon, Vega, Wheeler and Floydada on the South Plains to name a few.
But no doubt all eyes are on Oklahoma University football commit and Greyhounds senior forward Jalin Conyers. Conyers and his Greyhounds (26-5 overall) went to the Class 2A state championship last year, and are a Region I favorite again this season. Conyers, who helped West Texas High win a state title in 2018 as a sophomore, is averaging 19.3 points a game with 10.8 boards a contest.
Gruver opens the playoffs Against Highland Park at 8 p.m. Monday night at the Caprock Activity Center.
2. AHS rides momentum into playoffs
Amarillo High’s Brendan Hausen and the Sandies open the Class 5A postseason with Abilene Wylie Tuesday. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Amarillo High pulled off one of the top turn around seasons in all of Texas Class 5A hoops this winter.
Coming off a 13-22 effort a year ago and missing the playoffs, veteran coach Jason Pillion’s Sandies roll into the playoffs with massive momentum from a 26-8 record, blitzing District 3-5A at 16-0 and owning a 14-game wining streak.
Youth and defense are served with AHS. Opponents scored 60 points or more only twice in 34 games against the Sandies this year. While veteran guard Chris Dees can light up teams from the outside a strong nucleus of this AHS team is the play of sophomores Brendan Hausen (DI offers from Oklahoma and Texas Tech), Cade Hornecker (6 foot 11) and Damonze Woods.
— Lance Lahnert
3. Shades of the glory days
Pampa’s Chase Landers goes up for a bucket earlier this season. The Harvesters won 28 games for the first time since 1996. [Charla Schults/ For Press Pass Sports]
Pampa alum and head coach Braydon Barker has his Harvesters looking like the Pampa teams of yesteryear. Two decades ago, the Hustlin’ Harvesters were in the midst of runs to the state tournament in 1991, 1992, then winning the Class 4A state title in 1996 behind star point guard Rayford Young.
This years Pampa (28-5) team has won 28 games for the first time since that 96 state team, along with winning a district championship for the first time since 2011. Behind senior guard Chase Landers (25 ppg, seven rpg), arguably the Harvesters best player since Young, will Pampa be a legit contender for a regional championship.
4. Don’t sleep on the Bobcats
Childress head coach Wayne Parker talks to his team in a timeout during the Randall boys playoff preview. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
Class 3A Region I is always one of the toughest regions to predict, and this season is no different. Up and down the bracket there are serious contenders with Canadian, Bushland, Shallowater Littlefield, and the mighty Brock. Make sure to keep an eye out on the Childress Bobcats. In only two seasons all head coach Wayne Parker has done is win. Parker is combined 51-15, and led Childress to the regional final last season.
Right now the road is leading to a showdown with No. 5 Peaster (28-5) in a regional quarterfinal matchup.
5. Can Naz make it back to state
Nazareth’s Nathaneal Van Dijk takes a shot over a Texline defender earlier this season. [Mackenzie Teal/ Press Pass Sports]
They say everyone is replacable but trying to fill the void four-year starter Jake Gerber left behind was a tall task for Nazareth head coach Taylor Schulte. Thanks to the play of senior Nathaneal Van Dijk, Kaden Cleavinger and the Swifts, Nazareth, which wasn’t on many fans radars, enter the postseason as a contender rather than pretender.
Nazareth (24-8) is ranked No. 5 in Class 1A, and ran through District 3-1A with an unblemished 12-0 mark, that included a pair of wins against rival and No. 9-ranked Texline.
The Swifts drew a bye in the opening round, and will await the Shamrock-Kelton winner.