Northeast Dallas County boys basketball playoff preview
The dream of making it to the state tournament begins this week for hundreds of high school boys basketball teams from all over Texas.
Among those with visions of heading to Austin are Mesquite, Horn, Rowlett, Sachse and West Mesquite and those teams enter the postseason with very different pedigrees.
The Skeeters have been a playoff fixture during the past decade and have made some noise when they have gotten there.
Mesquite advanced to the regional tournament four consecutive years from 2006-2009 and advanced to Austin in 2007. The Skeeters have continued to make the playoffs since, but have been eliminated in the bi-district round the last three trips.
Horn has established itself as a perennial playoff team recently and will be making its seventh consecutive appearance.
Rowlett has made a few playoff appearances over the years and is hoping for its most successful run ever having already set a school record for victories in a season with 25.
Sachse is the newcomer and will making its first postseason trip since starting varsity play in 2004.
In the 4A playoffs, West Mesquite had the most recent notable run, advancing to the regional tournament for the first time in school history a year ago.
Here is a look at the bi-district playoff games.
Mesquite (20-10) vs. South Garland (11-16)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Lake Highlands High School
Notes: Mesquite took a while to get going but it has been flying ever since. The Skeeters started the season 0-6 as they were without much of their roster due to football, but are 20-4 with their full squad as they claimed the 12-5A championship and top seed in the playoffs.
Alex Cooper is scoring nearly 18 points and hitting 2.3 treys per contest. He is also pulling down 4.2 rebounds and leads the team with 4.3 assists per game. Rashard Higgins, Cooper's go-to receiver in football, is averaging 10 points and 1.4 3-pointers per game, while Javante Wilson leads the team in rebounding (7.8/game).
South Garland's record is not pretty, but the Skeeters cannot look ahead. The Colonels were sitting with a 6-16 record just a few weeks ago, but closed the season on a five-game winning streak, including a 53-50 victory over Naaman Forest on Friday in a play-in game.
LaJohn Martin is averaging 14.4 points per game and had 22 points in the win over the Rangers. Trey Jackson scores 13.4 points and knocks down 2.3 treys per contest.
Horn (16-14) vs. Sachse (14-15)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Royse City High School
Notes: By looking only at the records, this should be one of the more evenly-matched games in the bi-district round.
Horn's overall mark should not fool anybody. The Jaguars have gone 9-1 in their last 10 games and have defeated 12-5A champion Mesquite twice during that span.
Horn got some playoff experience of sorts on Friday when it defeated Longview, 61-48, in a seeding game to earn the second seed.
Anthony Sharp is one of the most explosive scorers in the area and has the ability to take over a game single-handedly.
Alan Hodge and Adrian Chevis are among those that also offer scoring punch, while 6-6 Zach Charles has a good all-around game inside.
Sachse is not riding any kind of momentum wave, having gone 5-5 in its last 10 games, but it should get an emotional lift from playing in a postseason game for the first time.
The Mustangs have several quick, athletic guards who are all under six feet tall in A.J. Goss, Tyrique Edwards, Marlo Johnson and Marcus Hubbard. But Sachse also has some height inside in 6-5 Josh Robertson and 6-4 Michael Olivares.
Rowlett (25-3) vs. Longview (20-14)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Lindale High School
Notes: Rowlett has put together the best regular season in school history and is ranked 16th in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 5A state poll.
The Eagles are hoping they remain on their current streak. Rowlett opened the season by winning its first 14 games. It then split its next six, going 3-3, but since that point, has won eight straight as they earned a share of the 11-5A championship.
It is not hard to see the trio that makes Rowlett go.
Jeffrey Carroll (Oklahoma State), one of three college signees, is one of the top scorers in the area at 22.3 points per game. Carroll also averages 6.7 rebounds.
Nathan Hawkins (Nebraska) is a double-digit scorer at 16.4 points per game, while leading the team in rebounding at better than seven per contest.
Austin Luke (Belmont) is the floor leader, averaging 6.3 assists per game.
It will be quite a challenge for Longview, which needs to get back on the right track. In the span of a week, the Lobos went from playing for a share of the district championship against Mesquite to falling back to the third seed with a 61-48 loss to Horn on Friday.
Jordan Whittaker leads the team in scoring and Longview would get a big lift if 6-4 post Dorian Leonard returns after missing the last game with an injury.
West Mesquite (23-9) vs. Frisco Wakeland (23-7)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Hebron High School
Notes: Since losing to South Oak Cliff in its first trip to the regional tournament last year, West Mesquite has been itching to get back and this is the first step.
The Wranglers, who have won four straight games and nine of their last 11, have one of the most explosive offenses in the area, hitting the century mark twice and averaging 68.4 points per game, the best in 10-4A.
Braylon Rayson, who has signed with Central Michigan, led the district in scoring at 19.4 points per game. Rayson has hit 82 3-pointers this season and also led West Mesquite in assists at 3.4 per contest.
Jalen Etienne, who came up big in last year's playoffs, is averaging 11.7 points per game. Jordan Johnson, Nate Davis and Tyrone Davis are also capable scorers, while Nate Davis and Tyrone Davis are the team's leading rebounders.
Like West Mesquite, Frisco Wakeland has five players averaging at least seven points per game, led by Cameron Walker (12 pts., 7.8 reb./game) and Josh Harris (10.9 ppg).
Sean Watkins is the team-leader in assists for the Wolverines, who had lost back-to-back games prior to their season-ending 67-65 victory over Frisco Heritage.
Follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson.