As one of the area’s highest-ranked teams, there haven’t been many battles the 15th-ranked Salado boys basketball team haven’t come out victorious.
The Eagles’ winning ways continued off the court as well as head coach Kenny Mann and his Salado contemporaries stuffed the the KDHpressbox.com Player of the Week ballot box for senior post Austin Adams, who beat out a very deserving Ojai Black of Ellison.
“Salado just likes to win at whatever it is, and it’s a competitive town so they’re going to compete at whatever it is,” said Mann, who helped spearhead the Salado voting contingent with continual emails to fellow teachers and parents throughout the last several days.
It was the program’s second straight Player of the Week honor after fellow Salado senior Brandon Womac won KDHpressbox.com Player of the Week last week.
“It felt great — it makes me love my little town of Salado,” Adams said. “There’s so much support here, it’s really awesome.”
Adams, who averaged 14 points per game in wins over Cameron Yoe and Little River Academy last week, beat out Black by a mere 44 votes in one of the closest voting battles in recent memory, winning with 950 of the 1858 total votes (51 percent).
“I think Salado has really jumped behind our basketball program and jumped behind our kids and we just have really good guys right now who aren’t just great players but they’re likable,” Mann said.
Not that the Ellison contingent didn’t put up a fight.
“Man, everybody was voting,” Ellison head coach Alberto Jones said.
With Jones checking the KDHpressbox.com website every hour thanks to constant reminders from his mother, as well as a push from several Ellison team moms, the voting battle between the two Eagles programs fluxuated throughout the last twp days, with Black cutting it close at times before Adams would pull away.
“We spread the word, they were just so persistent at Salado we couldn’t get it (laughs). We had people voting every hour,” Jones said. “It was fun.”
Black, who had one of the better statistical weeks averaging 23.5 points per game as the Eagles (22-4, 6-0 8-5A) remained undefeated in District 8-5A with wins over KISD rivals Shoemaker and Killeen, received 906 (48.8 percent) votes for runner-up status.
Harker Heights senior guard JaQuan Jackson and Heights sophomore Celneque Bobbitt II were the other nominees.
“He’s just doing what we need him to do — that’s what we have to have from him,” Jones said of Black. “I don’t think it’s no coincidence that Ojai’s stepping up and playing well as the team is playing well. He’s our guy.”