People, Places and Things – January 2023

We have one district that has 100% TABC membership for both boys and girls teams. District 3-5A has all their head coaches signed up. The schools are : Amarillo (Jason Pillion, Jeff Williams), Caprock (Michael Jackson, David Smiley), Palo Duro (Jeff Evans, A.J. Johnson), Tascosa (Steven Jackson, Chris Sumrall) and Plainview (Drew Thompson, Adrian Alfaro). Congratulations to all those schools. TABC appreciates the support. There are several districts that only lack one school so which district will be the second.

The Benjamin HS boys recently had their first 50 point scorer in school history. Grayson Rigdon scored 51 in a district 16-1A game against Crowell along with 18 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. The Mustangs are currently second in district behind # 24 state ranked Munday, their only loss in a 9-1 season. Grayson had 36 points in the loss to the Moguls of coach Adrien Daniel. Grayson is averaging 37.1 points per game for his coach and father Wesley Rigdon. Benjamin got a late start due to winning state in football.

Students of basketball history might remember another Benjamin coach from the past. Hall of Famer Don Haskins started his coaching career in Benjamin coaching both boys and girls in 1955. He followed that season with four at Hedley and one at Dumas before being hired in 1961 at Texas Western College where his Miners won the NCAA national championship over highly favored Kentucky in 1966. Coach Haskins played only his seven black players against the all white Kentucky team and changed college basketball for the good and forever. He coached 38 years at Texas Western (now UTEP) but it all started in three small towns in Texas before he and his Miners made basketball history.

Some other top boys scoring leaders in the state are Qasim Boyd of Dickinson 26.6 (Jason Wilson) 24-6A, Matthew Gonzalez of SA Marshall 26.4 (Bobby Jaklich) 28-6A, Matthew Soto of Somerset 26.1 (Bryan Pena) 29-4A and Jordan Balderaz of Lytle 24.7 (Jacob Hernandez) 28-3A.

Until last season coach Antonio Burks of Rice HS (18-3A) was coaching the boys team. His daughter Saniya played on the girls team so he switched over so he could coach her. The result was a 227 season and the school’s first playoff win in 15 years. Saniya averaged 29 points per game and is now a junior averaging 32.3 and shooting for a longer playoff run.

Other top scoring girls players around the state include Aaliyah Chavez of Lubbock Monterey 30.8 (Jill Schneider) 4-5A, Eliza Rayna of Rio Hondo 29.0 (Victor Sauceda) 32-3A, Emma Lucio of Edinburg Vela 24.4 (Lottie Zarate) 31-5A, Janiah Perkins of SA Highlands 23.5 (Adrianna Wiatrek) 27-5A and Rian Forestier of SA Brandeis 22.7 (Jennifer Brewer) 28-6A. Rian is also averaging 12.7 rebounds per game for Coach Brewer and the Lady Broncos. Other girls players who are leading rebounders in Texas include Gabby Mata of Charlotte 17.2 (Jerry Connell) 30-2A, Biva Byrd of Kingwood Park 14.6 (Andrew Cross) 16-5A, Layla Perez of Donna IDEA 12.4 (Andrew Sierra) 31-3A and Haleigh Charles of Blanco 12.2 (Matt Karnes) 5-3A.

Jennifer Thomas joined the TABC office staff in 2002 and has been a major fixture since. Even when her husband Brad started a new job in Sandy, Utah, she has continued to be a part of TABC, working long distance on the newsletter, website, posting the rankings each week and a million other jobs. She has always been visible at the TABC clinic checking in the vendors and solving the many problems that come up on site. Since her move to Utah, Jennifer has also worked at the Utah High School Activities Association as a part time office worker. The UHSAA is the Utah counterpart to our University Interscholastic League (UIL). She was recently promoted to the Office Manager and we congratulate her. But, don’t be alarmed as she will continue with her duties at TABC and you will see her in her information booth at the clinic in San Antonio in May. Kudos to Jen!

Denton senior M.J. Thomas recently scored the 2,000th point of his career. He scored 443 as a freshman, 534 as a sophomore and 778 as a junior, all while he played for Calvert (29-1A) . He is now at Denton (7-5A) where his father Michael is the head coach and so far he has 279 points this season along with 13.6 rebounds per game. ATravia Thomas is MJs aunt and is the head girls coach at Denton and 60 miles north in Gainsville his grandfather Henry Thomas is the boys coach at Lone Star North- Gainsville (TAPPS 2-3A).

Other boys who are leading rebounders in the state include Landry Gammon of Athens Christian 17.0 (Marcelo Brown) TAPPS 4-1A, Trey Craig of Pantego Christian 14.7 (Jae Avery) TAPPS 14A, Mitchell Holmes of Arlington Oakridge 12.5 (Andre Walker) SPC, Jaylen Crocker-Johnson of SA Marshall 12.0 (Bobby Jaklich) 28-6A, Chris McDermott of Houston Washington 12.0 (Vincent Grayson) 21-4A.

Lonn Reisman has finished 30 years as Athletic Director at Tarleton State University, one of the longest tenured ADs in the nation. He came to Tarleton as men’s basketball coach in 1988 and was made Athletic Director in 1993. He coached for 30 years winning 654 games at Tarleton and stepped down in 2019 to devote all of his time to being AD. Tarleton’s Athletic Center is named in his honor and he has been inducted into the Tarleton State University Hall of Fame. Interestingly, Coach Reisman discovered Dennis Rodman while he was an assistant coach at Southeastern Oklahoma State. He spotted Dennis while he was playing for Cooke County Junior College and brought him to Southeast. Rodman ended up in the NBA and Lonn was hired at Tarleton and the rest is history.

In his first year as boys coach at Floydada, Coach Eddie Walker has the Whirlwinds flying. Floydada is 22-4, 4-0 in district 4-2A, and ranked # 5 in the state. They have scored over 100 points in 5 of their games. The big showdown in this Panhandle district will be the rematch with the New Deal Lions (#15 in 2A) of Coach Kyler Bean. In their first meeting Floydada eeked out a 79-78 overtime victory at Floydada. Mark your calendar for January 24 when they meet again in New Deal.

Several Texas schools have the sons of NBA stars on their rosters. Strake Jesuit’s (Dominique Amarosa) squad includes Jace Posey, whose Dad James is a 12 year NBA veteran and two time NBA champion. Layman McGrady plays for PSAT Academy in Houston (Ed Haskins) and his Dad, Tracy, was a seven time NBA all star and two time scoring champion including a stint with the Houston Rockets. Fort Bend Ridge Point (Darren Johnson) has sons of two famous dads. Terrance Ford’s father is T.J. Ford, an 8 year NBA veteran who took the University of Texas to the final four as a senior in college. Dorian Hayes is the son of Chuck Hayes, a nine year NBA veteran, who was a fan favorite during his five years with the Houston Rockets.

Anthony Elizondo plays for the Alice HS boys varsity and has put up some nice numbers in numerous statistical categories: He averages 15 points per game, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and he has made over 100 free throws at 78% and over 50 treys. Many players of any age would like to own those stats but Anthony is only a freshman. Before the start of district 31-4A, he scored 27 against West Oso (4A), 29 against CC Moody (5A) and 32 against Brownsville Rivera (6A). The Coyotes lineup includes three sophomores to go with Anthony, so the future looks bright for coach Anthony Elizondo. Yes, that is player Anthony’s dad.

When you have noteworthy news from your school or area, let us know so we can put it in future TABC newsletters. It can include milestones, school records, statistics, unusual happenings or interesting game conclusions or exciting district races. We like to hear from you and our members in different parts of the state get to learn about schools and players that they might never get to play against or even see. We can only post it if you send it to us.

Also don’t forget to send us your team picture if your team is ranked or has been ranked at any time during the 2022-23 season. Good luck to all as district races heat up.