Clements basketball makes program history in playoffs

It has been quite a school year for Clements athletics, one that started with a regional final appearance in team tennis and a long-awaited playoff appearance in football.

The swimming team recently produced two state champions and a top-five team finish, less than a week before a historic run by the boys basketball team. Clements advanced to the Region III-6A tournament for the first time, closing a 28-10 season with a hard-fought 61-54 loss to Atascocita in the semifinals.

The Rangers led the Eagles 24-22 at halftime. Bryce Matthews led offensively with 20 points as Divine Ugochukwu added 14. Abdullah Olajuwon amassed 13 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

It was a remarkable run for a program that had never advanced past the area round and had not won a playoff game in seven years. Clements finished third in District 20-6A with a 9-5 record before eliminating Tompkins 40-37, Cy-Fair 52-50 and Mayde Creek 49-42 in the playoffs.

The Rangers came through in clutch moments, holding off a Bobcats rally in the area round and controlling the final stretch against the Rams after the teams were tied at 39 in the final period.

Ugochukwu scored 18 points and Olajuwon added 15 to lead the Rangers against Cy-Fair, with Chuks Egbo scoring 11, including threes to help produce a 28-20 halftime lead. CJ Ogletree added seven points for Clements, which twice led by seven in the fourth.

The Rangers trailed 25-22 at halftime of the regional quarterfinal, but Olajuwon (16 points) and Ugochukwu (22 points) led key runs in the second half. Jaden Campbell added a late transition basket for a 47-42 lead that proved to be enough. Clements limited the Rams to 30 percent shooting from the field.

Fort Bend ISD produced six playoff wins, including bi-district victories by Elkins in Class 6A, and Marshall and Hightower in Class 5A.

The Knights repeated as 20-6A champions and added a 60-44 victory against Cinco Ranch as part of a 30-6 season. Chris Johnson amassed 19 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals in the bi-district round, with De’rail Wilson (12 rebounds, 10 points), Todd Woods (eight points), Jackson Fields (six points, six rebounds, two steals) and Ashton McKenzie (six points, two steals) among the top contributors.

Marshall completed a 28-3 season, highlighted by a 16-0 mark in District 24-5A. The Buffalos routed Sharpstown 89-42 to open the playoffs and fell to regional champion Crosby in the area round despite big nights by Jaland Lowe and Chris Marshall.

Hightower dominated its bi-district playoff, downing Northside 105-45 as Aaron Williams (18 points), Jacory Chatman (16), Jaden Hughes (16), Corey Thompson (15), Traeveon Hannah (11) and Asa Christopher (10) scored in double figures. Kyrin Dock led with nine assists.

Foster added a bi-district championship in Region III-5A as well, defeating Sterling 68-53 behind Chancellor White’s 28 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Karunwi Oladobe (18 points, four assists, two steals), Jace Jones (13 points, nine rebounds, five assists) and CJ White (nine points, 10 rebounds) were among the leaders.

Stafford advanced to the Region IV-4A quarterfinals after winning District 25-4A during a 30-5 season. The Spartans defeated Sinton 86-54 and Wimberly 70-41 to claim their third straight area championship, which includes a 2020 state tournament appearance.

Staff writer Jon Poorman contributed to this report.

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