Five Takeaways: Mayde Creek 87, Hightower 68

Five Takeaways: Mayde Creek 87, Hightower 68 (Copyright (c) 2021 VYPE - All rights reserved)

KATY—Five takeaways from Tuesday afternoon’s non-district game between Mayde Creek and Hightower, the latter which is ranked No. 20 in VYPE’s preseason rankings.

It was the Rams, however, who came away with a demonstrative 87-68 win at home in a contest that consisted of some of Houston's top talents in the Classes of 2022, 2023 and 2025, respectively.

1. Angel Sonnier: the best player on the court

There was plenty of high-caliber talent on the floor, but it was Mayde Creek junior guard Angel Sonnier who stole the show.

The 6-foot lead guard scored a game-high 33 points with five rebounds, five assists, four steals, and 5-of-11 shooting from 3.

"I'm not big on rankings and all that stuff, but Angel Sonnier is one of the best guards in his city," Rams coach Anthony Fobb said. "Now, Angel needs to work on Angel. He's a kid. He's got shortfalls. But when he's playing like he did (Tuesday), the sky's the limit. He's sharing the ball, he's getting his assists, he's getting his points. When he's not worried about recruiting and what the rankings say, he's one of the best in this city. He brings out the best in me, and I just want to bring out the best in him."

Sonnier went up against two players who are considered to have a higher profile in Hightower senior guards Aaron Williams Jr. and Jacory Chatman.

Sonnier outshined both.

"There's no pressure," Sonnier said. "I just play my game. My game speaks for itself."

Sonnier was primarily a spot shooter last season. This season, he said he's more aggressive looking to create for himself and others. He showed off deft ballhandling that created space time and time again.

"Angel doesn't feel he's getting his just due, but when he shows up for games like this, guys will notice," Fobb said. "Let them do the talking."

2. Rams halt Hurricanes' Williams' momentum

Hightower's Williams was averaging 19 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and shooting 47 percent overall and 40 percent from 3 entering the Mayde Creek game.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder had 18 points on Tuesday, 14 in the second half after Mayde Creek built a 42-22 lead, and shot 2-for-9 from 3.

Fobb saw on film that Hightower tended to play like his Rams sometimes: one pass and then shot, with nobody in offensive rebounding position.

"The goal was to get them to take bad shots and get in position to rebound and get out and run," Fobb said. "We made (Williams) play defense on the other side, and being a shooter, his legs and arms wore down."

Chatman led the Hurricanes with 20 points, 13 in the second half.

3. Freshmen starring for Rams

Mayde Creek has two of the more promising talents in the Class of 2025 in the Greater Houston area.

Point guard Christian Jones, a 5-foot-9 sharpshooter, scored 20 points with four steals and four assists and shot 6-for-9 on 3s. He scored 12 points in the second quarter when the Rams turned a seven-point lead into 20 by the half.

Jamal Chretien II, a lithe, 6-foot-3 rangy forward, had 13 points and three rebounds. Eleven of his points came in the second half.

Jones, who was previously home-schooled like Chretien, said his seven games on varsity have been eye-opening.

"It's given me better skills, toughness and just becoming a better point guard," Jones said. "It's adjusting to going up against guys bigger and stronger than you."

"He's still got a lot of work to do," Fobb added. "The different reads, the different speeds of the game at certain times. Natural things a freshman struggles with. But scoring-wise, we see that every day in practice. We expect it to go in, and he's not a selfish player. He can get any shot he wants, but he'll pass the ball."

Jones said his on-ball defense has improved considerably. It had to if he expected to see playing time under Fobb. He has also had to raise his shooting pocket to get the shot off faster.

Fobb said it's his rookies' intensity and physicality that impressed him during summer and offseason tournaments and gave him confidence they could succeed on varsity.

"Both of them have private training and we lift weights hard here, and they really embrace the weights," Fobb said. "They're very mature, and they have really good parents. They don't let them get too high; they're on them hard. They can play on this level."

4. Hurricanes stand out

Hightower's stars of Williams and Chatman did not play up to their elite standards, but others stood out for coach Stephen Woods.

Senior forward Joshua Lacour, who came off the bench in the first half but started the second, was a difference-maker in the paint with six points and nine rebounds. Sophomore 6-foot-2 forward Milton Rice also had a strong game with six points and six rebounds.

5. Fast start, no surprise

Mayde Creek's 6-1 start is not a surprise to anyone in the Rams' locker room.

"This is what I expected, especially when you have these incoming freshmen who can take a lot of pressure off me," Sonnier said. "They bring a lot more diversity to the game. We know what we're doing. We're good, and we're going to get it done."

Mayde Creek's only loss is to Dallas Mansfield Timberview. The Rams won the consolation bracket of the Magnolia Tournament.

"Guys had us third or fourth in district, and that's fine," Fobb said. "We don't care about that. We come here and work. I call it a blue-collar program. This was a really good, legitimate win for us against a strong, playoff-caliber team."