By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
What a sports year it was for McKinney in 2012.
With two former MISD football stars auditioning for NFL jobs, McKinney North tennis continuing its dominance, McKinney Boyd volleyball making it to the state semifinals, and McKinney High and Boyd renewing a district rivalry across all sports, 2012 was a year to remember in the Mac.
But what lies ahead in 2013, you ask? While there is sure to be several stories that come out of nowhere to catch our attention, here are some things to look for in the next 365 days:
1. All three boys basketball teams will make the postseason. If you weren’t able to attend the OrthoTexas Invitational at Boyd this past weekend, you missed some incredible basketball from all three MISD high schools. North lost to Little Elm by two in the last consolation game of the day, while Boyd topped McKinney in the championship game in a rare non-district “district” game.
After watching each team this weekend, all three teams have the athletes and shooters to make the playoffs this season. Boyd and MHS will have the toughest routes, considering the strength of District 10-5A, but with four out of the six teams making the postseason out of the district, you have to believe at least one of the two McKinney schools will find a way in the tournament.
Boyd’s ability to play solid defense and inside-out offense gives them the ability to hang with any team, especially with the transfer of Michael Grant. Grant won tournament MVP last weekend and is a big body down low for the Broncos, giving them an added element to their offense to go with their jump shooters Faisel Mansour and Mikel Parish.
McKinney High is a team that does a terrific job of forcing turnovers and creating opportunities in the fast break, but the Lions’ free throw shooting has to improve in order for them to beat some of the big boys of 10-5A. They were able to make a big comeback in the semi-final game versus Little Elm despite shooting under 60% from the free throw line, but the misses may have cost them the championship game versus Boyd. Overall, the Lions can win a lot of games if they get hot from the perimeter and continue to force turnovers.
In District 13-4A, North should find a way to make the playoffs and battle late into the season for the district title. The opening loss at Lovejoy didn’t help out the title hopes at all, but the Bulldogs were able to beat Wylie two weeks ago and get back to .500 heading into 2013. I like the game of Julion Pearre and what he gives the Bulldog offense, and if sharp shooters like Colin Curran and Jola Otubu get hot from the perimeter, North can win some games without much of a presence in the paint.
2. Former McKinney High pitcher Zach Lee will make his Major League debut in September for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I played with Lee for many years as a kid growing up, and I think everyone around the team always knew that he would go on to play professional baseball someday. Well, after two years in the minor leagues, it appears that Lee will get a chance at some point this season to contribute to the Dodgers on the major league level. Los Angeles has a pretty strong rotation going into the season, especially with the acquisition of Zack Greinke, but injuries and the September call-up date will allow Lee the chance to either make some spot starts late in the season or come out of the bullpen, similar to what David Price did in 2008 with the Tampa Bay Rays.
In addition, his former MHS teammate Matt Lipka is likely a few more years away from getting a shot at the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves, but the converted outfielder may see a promotion to the Double-A level in 2013.
3. The Boyd girl’s soccer team will be state championship contenders again in 2013. The Lady Broncos were stunned last season in the regional quarterfinals versus A&M Consolidated, losing 3-2 on a shootout loss to end the season. But with just three loses in the last three season for the powerhouse program, expectations are still high for the Lady Broncos to return to the playoffs and make a deep run this spring. And while the MHS girls team lost in the area round last season to Carrollton Creekview, the two district matchups between these teams could be very enticing.
4. Boyd football will look very different next season, especially in the running back position. The program’s all-time leading rusher is now an Air Force Falcon, which means that the Broncos must apply the “next-man-up” rule and find his replacement. But it won’t be easy finding 250 carries and almost 1,900 yards and 23 touchdowns, which means that head coach Don Drake will have to be creative in how he gets his running game going next fall. The Broncos will always be a run-first offense, but junior quarterback Curtis Ladd might take on more responbility in throwing the football in his senior season at Boyd, as Dedrick Scrivens will likely be Driskell’s replacement in the backfield. Scrivens saw time in the slot receiver position as well as some carries out of the backfield, and that kind of versatility will be useful in getting him out into space and letting him make plays. It won’t be easy to replace the Landry Award nominee, but the Broncos sure hope they can, as they will face the defending 5A state champions in their place in the fall.
5. Can North team tennis make another district title run without Jordan Hart? One of the most decorated tennis players in Bulldog history will graduate in the spring, leaving behind a hole in which head coach Jon Stein must fill with some young talent. Hart was the school’s first regional tennis gold last season as well as the state singles championship, and was a key contributor in the Bulldogs winning their seventh district title in school history. Luckily for North, Hart has one more spring to try and win another singles state title before he leaves for college ball in the fall.
6. The “Red Nation” versus “Lion Nation” fan battle will only get more heated and fun. Last fall we all got a taste of what this little rivalry could be, but the more and more big time sporting events there are like the football game last November or the OrthoTexas Invitational championship game last Saturday, the intense nature between these two fan bases will only get better and better for the casual observer. I have to say that it is quite interesting to have a city rivalry that is as passionate as it is with these two schools, but I think everyone would agree that if North can one day join the mix and all three MISD schools could play together, this city would be absolutely electric.
7. We can all rejoice that there is no more Twilight movies coming out this year. This isn’t a sports point, but I think we can all agree with this one.
8. The Sports Bruu Podcast will make its return this year. We think. It turns out that our agents aren’t very good and can’t negotiate a contract for season two of the show, but the latest news is that things look good for a return in the New Year. Once again, we think it looks good. Stay tuned for the latest news.
Regardless of whether you are a fan of red, yellow or orange, McKinney residents have a lot to be proud of and look forward to in 2013 from all three high schools. There are sure to be lots of news and stories in the next year, and I hope that you all continue to come to Town Square Buzz for all your local sports needs. I will keep getting better at my job and hope to bring you the best local sports coverage around. I hope everyone has a happy New Year. Let’s make 2013 one to remember. Until next time, ladies and gentlemen.