By Bob Corwin
It is hard to win prestigious events in Texas like the 15th Annual McDonald’s Texas Invitational (held in Deer Park and Pasadena, Texas) or the 17th Annual Allen Lady Eagle Hoopfest (held at Allen High School in Allen, Texas). Yet Duncanville High School in Deer Park/Pasadena (near Houston) and Plano West High School at Allen (north of Dallas) has each dominated these two events winning in each of the last three years. Both events ran November 16-18, 2017.
(Note: The events were about 300 miles apart requiring a late-night drive from Deer Park to Allen on November 16 in order to attend both.)
The Texas Invitational (with multiple major sponsors besides presenting sponsor McDonald’s) had 32 teams divided into two 16-team divisions based on anticipated strength of team. The organizers smartly placed the top section teams at the three gyms of Deer Park High School making it relatively easy to see all these teams in one day. Allen (presented by Allen High School with multiple local sponsors) had eight pools of three teams (24 total) with winner going to Gold, second to Silver and third to Bronze Bracket, all at Allen High School with three gyms within easy walking distance.
McDonald's Texas Invitational Final
Duncanville 72-40 Converse Judson
Duncanville High School dominated in Deer Park never threatened toward the latter stages of any of its games. By half of the final, the Pantherettes led 44-25. In the final tally, Duncanville was led by Hannah Gusters (MVP; see below) with 29 points and Zarielle Green (all-tournament team selectee; see below) with 26 points. Judson was led by Corina Carter (see below) with 13 points.
Duncanville Coach Cathy Self-Morgan commented “our defense ignites our offense. We got good inside and outside play.”
Duncanville has now won the Texas Invitational in five of the last seven years including the last three in a row.
Allen Lady Eagle Hoopfest Final
Plano West 61-42 Allen
Our second three-peat of the weekend! This was Allen’s second appearance in the final of its own event, still never having captured the title according to Allen Coach Teresa Durham. The hosts had no answer for Plano West’s star point guard Jaden Owens (see below) who finished with 26 points, setting the tone with 13 in quarter one after which West led 22-10. Allen cut the lead to 33-26 (Owens was held to three points) at half but West controlled the third quarter pushing the lead out to 48-36 after the third stanza. Plano West was not threatened down the stretch. Unlike Plano West, the Allen offense was relatively balanced throughout the event here being led by Jada Peacock (see below) with 11 points.
Unlike Duncanville, which was heavily favored in Deer Park, Plano West had a few competitive battles on the way to its title.
Looking at some of the individual talent in alphabetical order with height, position and school within graduation year. Location of school is in parenthesis. Players seen at the McDonald's Texas Invitational are denoted with a (*) preceding the name.
* Joanne Allen-Taylor, 5-8, guard, 2018, Cypress Falls High School (Houston, Texas)
Allen-Taylor, a Texas commit where she will likely play the wing, carries a heavy load for the Lady Eagles. She handles the ball but is also expected to score the lion’s share of her team’s points (29 in one outing). She can shoot the 3 but is most effective coming off the bounce.
Sarah Andrews, 5-7, point guard, 2020, MacArthur High School (Irving, Texas)
Andrews is considered one of the top 2020 point guards in the USA. She handles the ball well and has great court vision (especially for a young point guard). Best attacking the basket, her 3-ball needs to become more consistently successful.
Amber Bacon, 5-6, point guard, 2018, South Grand Prairie High School (Grand Prairie, Texas)
An SMU signee with good court vision, Bacon will gladly pass but will attempt to take the game over if her team is in danger of losing. A good mid-range off the bounce shooter, her three-ball needs to become more consistent.
N’yah Boyd, 5-8, point guard, 2019, Dr. John D. Horn High School (Mesquite, Texas)
Boyd prefers one speed – fast and can be successful playing that way. She prefers the drive but can burn opponents with the 3-ball. A definite D1 prospect, Power 5 programs should be monitoring her maturation.
Jaden Owens of Plano West High School. PC: Bob Corwin
Amaya Brannon, 5-11, forward, 2021, Plano West High School (Plano, Texas)
A nice athlete, Brannon is not afraid to mix it up inside. Then she will step out and knock down a three. Her maturation should be monitored from the Power 5 level down.
* Corina Carter, 5-6, point guard, 2019, Converse Judson High School (Converse, Texas)
Carter is a feisty competitor. A lefty, she is a vocal leader looking to attack in transition or the quarter court. An obvious D1 prospect, increasing range beyond the arc would add value to her recruiting stock.
* Charli Collier, 6-5, center, 2018, Barbers Hill High School (Mont Belvieu, Texas)
Collier, committed to Texas and strong candidate for high school All-American honors, appears to be focusing her game to low post scoring in order for her team to win as much as possible. In past viewings, she seemed more interested in attempting mid-range shots. In one game at the event, she posted 38 points. While often dominant in the lower paint, she still has room for growth in finishing better with contact and use of her left hand on the left side of the rim.
Corina Carter of Converse Judson High School. PC: Bob Corwin
* Zarielle Green, 6-0, guard, 2018, Duncanville High School (Duncanville, Texas)
A Tennessee commit, Green does a bit of everything for Duncanville. Above all else a fierce competitor, Green will sometime initiate the offense although mostly playing on the wing where she will score via penetration or perimeter shooting.
* Hannah Gusters, 6-4, center, 2020, Duncanville High School (Duncanville, Texas)
Gusters has grown up quite a bit from last year where she looked like a promising freshman. This year she earned MVP honors at the event in Deer Park showing good hands, footwork and finish. If not already, she should soon be recognized as one of the top centers in the 2020 class.
* Kyndall Hunter, 5-8, shooting guard, 2021, Cypress Creek High School (Houston, Texas)
Like so many freshmen, Hunter needs to fill out and being so young, her release is still a bit low. On the other side, her pluses are many. She can spot up for a three but also shoot off the bounce. She reads the passing lanes well on both offense and defense. A good athlete and likely future division 1 player, her maturation should be monitored from the Power level down.
* Deja Kelly, 5-7, shooting guard, 2020, Johnson High School (San Antonio, Texas)
Kelly, orally committed to Texas, has a smooth jumper which she has the ability to create on her own. An above average athlete, she posted 30 points in one game at the Texas Invitational.
* Tommisha Lampkin, 6-2, post, 2020, Mansfield Summit High School (Mansfield, Texas)
Lampkin runs the court well for her size with some ability to handle as post players go. She has nice post moves in the lower key. Defensively, she showed an ability to block shots. A likely D1 prospect, improving her face-up range would raise her stock with Power 5 programs.
Dajinae McCarty, 5-8, point guard, 2019, Cedar Hill High School (Cedar Hill, Texas)
A good athlete, McCarty looks to drive or drive and kick to open teammates. She can step out to hit the 3 but that is not option number 1. Another plus is that she hits the boards well as guards go. A definite D1, prospects Power 5 schools should be monitoring her maturation.
Hannah Gusters of Duncanville High School. PC: Bob Corwin
Jordyn Oliver, 5-10, guard/forward, 2019, Prosper High School (Prosper, Texas)
Orally committed to Baylor, Oliver can be described as a power player on the perimeter going strong to the basket able to finish with contact. She has a nice mid-range jumper. In one game at Allen, she posted 31 points but should not be described as a selfish player as she is more than willing to pass to open teammates.
Jaden Owens, 5-9, point guard, 2019, Plano West High School (Plano, Texas)
Owens has two older sisters who played Division 1 basketball but she appears to be the best of the litter. At Allen, she willed her team to victory and would get our vote for unofficial (never heard there was an official one) MVP of the event. In the championship game, she posted 26 points including five 3’s. Besides that, she is her team’s primary ball handler (has good vision and willing to pass). One of the top point guards in the 2019 class, she has multiple Power 5 offers.
Jada Peacock, 5-7, guard/forward, 2018, Allen High School (Allen, Texas)
A Wichita State signee, Peacock helped lead the host team to a second-place finish at the event, playing hard while doing so. While willing to attack the basket, she has a nice stroke from the perimeter to beyond the arc.
Jordyn Oliver of Prosper High School. PC:Bob Corwin