MAGNOLIA — College Park finally met its match.
The No. 25 state-ranked Cavaliers saw their 18-game winning streak snapped in the Region II-6A area playoffs with a 47-46 loss against Cypress Ranch on Wednesday evening at Magnolia West High School.
The Mustangs (22-5) are headed to the regional quarterfinals for the second time in school history and for the first time since 2016. The program has never advanced further than the third round.
“It means so much coming into this season, kind of rebuilding a little bit last year,” Cypress Ranch coach Mason Huffmeister said. “We took our lumps. We knew we were talented, but we were young and went through a lot of growing pains. They stuck together and held it together, and we just started clicking.”
Cypress Ranch trailed by one point with the clock winding down. Junior guard Mason Docks brought the ball up the floor and pulled up for a jumper. The shot missed, but senior forward Dami Alabi was there for the putback with about three seconds remaining. College Park’s last-second heave fell short on the other end.
“I just trusted the guy with the ball in his hands, Mason Docks, so I didn’t want to call a timeout and just let it develop,” Huffmeister said. “Dami Alabi was right there for the miss and did a great job with things we work on in practice — two hands, high point, rebound, and he did that and got the putback. We feel very fortunate. Hats off to College Park — they’re a hell of a team, and our kids played their butts off tonight.”
Cypress Ranch will take on District 16-6A rival Cypress Park in the Region II-6A quarterfinals later this week. The Tigers (19-5) defeated No. 13 state-ranked Westfield, 58-53, on Wednesday. Cypress Park has won five consecutive games and split meetings with Cypress Ranch during the regular season.
College Park (25-4), meanwhile, saw its campaign reach a somber conclusion with the loss. The Cavaliers accomplished plenty this season, however, winning the undefeated District 13-6A title. College Park posted its highest win total since 2014 and reached the area round for the sixth time in program history.
“I thought our kids played extremely well,” College Park coach Clifton McNeely said. “They played well enough to win, but we just came up a second and a half short there. As I told them, there’s nothing to be disappointed about. They had a great season (winning) 18 games in a row, and we whooped everybody’s butt in our district. Very, very, very proud of them, and it was a great group of seniors with their leadership and all. We’ve got a good core and nucleus coming back next year, so we’ll see what happens.”
Docks led the Cypress Ranch with 19 points, and Dubem Muoneke added nine. Ty Buckmon led College Park with 12 points, and Drew Calderon finished with 11.
Cypress Ranch led for most of the first quarter and went ahead by as many as six points on two separate occasions. College Park stayed within striking range, however, and trailed 15-11 at the end of the period.
The Cavaliers got into more of a rhythm offensively in the second quarter and went ahead 18-17 on a layup from Darel Reece with 4:47 on the clock. College Park never relinquished the lead and went up by as many as seven points on a 3 from Isaiah Major Perez with 1:48 to go. The Cavaliers led 28-26 at halftime.
“I thought in the second quarter, we did a much better job of moving the basketball and attacking the basket, and we quit settling so much,” McNeely said. “Really, it was on the defensive end where I just talked about the rebounding. We quit giving them second-chance opportunities.”
Cypress Ranch finally took the lead back at 35-32 with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter on a 3-pointer from Docks. The Mustangs were ahead 37-33 entering the final frame.
College Park refused to go down easy, and with about 23 seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter, Marvin Dock made a layup to give his team the 46-45 lead. Cypress Ranch had the final full possession of the game, however, and Alabi came through in the clutch to give his team the victory.
“We’ve got some kids in there with a lot of senior experience,” Huffmeister said. “I felt like that’s getting us through here at the end of district and early on in these playoffs. I’m super proud of them.”