It will always be “Houston vs All Y’all” for me, & I was excited to be in Fort Worth watching an all Houston final as Houston Christian & Episcopal got to tango again after a really good games just 8 days before.
This game was a great example of how a championship game should be played.. Episcopal came out of the gate on fire thanks to DA Houston’s aggressive play. The junior guard scored 9 of the 13 1st quarter points, getting to the free throw line three times. Houston Christian finished the period with a 6-2 run to go up 16-13. Noah Kon and Sahvir Wheeler combined for 13 points.
Jahari Long & EHS pushed the pace a bit more in the 2nd quarter as Long would find senior guard DJ Edgar & Houston in transition for open looks. Edgar scored 7 straight and Houston attacked the rim in transition scoring 7 points in the quarter. The Knights would go up 30-26, their biggest lead, after a big time tip in by Houston. HCS got hot from outside in the 2nd quarter. They attacked the gaps in the zone and senior Ty Archibald hit two of his three 3’s and Kobe Haynes knocked down two long bombs as well. They would finish the half with a 8-3 run, highlighted by Wheeler’s coast to coast buzzer beating lay up to go up 34-33 at intermission.
The 3rd quarter EHS made a conscious effort to use their size to their advantage as junior forward Adam Kanafani went to work inside and on the offensive glass. He scored 8 points and grabbed four offensive rebounds. His energy and toughness would keep the Knights within striking distance. But every time they would get down by one or two points Wheeler would
make a big time play. He found Kon open for a long 2 and 3 pointer in the Zone, he split the zone and had two filaaaaaaaaay’s at the rim. He came up huge for his team with 4 assists, & 6 points in the quarter. The mustangs were up 50-45 after 3 quarters.
For EHS the 4th quarter was a bit like the 3rd, more Kanafani inside buckets. His teammates would find him for easy scores at the basket and he was drawing fouls with his energy on the offensive glass. Scoring 10 points, he tried to put his team on his back and carry them to the title. He for sure was on the scouting report for HCS, but the Mustangs had an unsung hero help them close this game out. Sam Torn, who stands about 6’1, & despite being undersized, he grabbed 6 rebounds, including FOUR big time offensive boards to give his team the ball back as they were managing the clock. He also knocked down three big baskets on his way to 7 points in the quarter.
Congrats to Wayne Jones and his crew for coming in 2nd place. I’m glad DA Houston and Adam Kanafani didn’t miss the bus for this game or it would have ugly, they were unbelievable for their team tonight and the Knights are in good hands with a lot of their fire power returning. Houston Christian would win the game 69-64, their 2nd straight SPC Championship. Big congrats to Ron Crandall, his team, & his staff. At the beginning of the year, NOBODY thought that this team, after losing Miller Kopp and Jalen Clark, that they could back to the championship game, let alone win it.
EHS: Adam Kanafani 20, DA Houston 20, DJ Edgar 12
HCS: Noah Kon 19, Sahvir Wheeler 17, Ty Archibald 14, Kobe Haynes 10
Elephant in the room time… EHS guard Jahari Long only scored two free throws in this game coming off of the best performance I’ve ever seen him have the night before against St. Marks where he was masterful, with 23 points and 11 assists. There’s a saying that you can’t have a bad game in a big game, which is absolutely true. He didn’t have a bad game, Sahvir Wheeler played tremendous defense on him and Houston Christian had a game plan to shut him down and it worked. I tweeted how Crandall doesn’t get enough props for his coaching, and in their strategy worked. Wheeler sat down and guarded him and made Long give the ball up to his teammates. Now, scoring 2 points in the championship game is TOUGH, and not acceptable, especially when you lose by 5 and you’re going against another high major guard. I will agree to that, but he did have 9 assists and 8 rebounds. He does have to find a balance of when to take over offensively by scoring, & when to get his guys involved. It was definitely a tough way for him go out.
Speaking of going out.. Sahvir Wheeler.. what you can say. He’s a winner, always has been. Fought back after the injury earlier this year, comes back to lead his team to another championship with a roster that nobody would have thought could win it again. Improved every year on his game, added another dimension, & got better. Never ducked a big time opponent, heard all the chatter about his size and overcame that. And is a better kid than player, which speaks volumes. He will go down in Houston as one of the best guards in the city.