The competition in District 8-5A basketball, on the girls and boys side, was stiff in its own right this past season.
But Region I, on both sides, was brutal.
Five girls teams ranked in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll called Region I home last season while eight boys teams, including two in the top five, also resided in Region I.
But one girl and two boys from area teams managed to stand out even on that stage.
Ellison junior Jordanna Porter along with Harker Heights senior Josh DeLaney and Copperas Cove junior Rashard Odomes each added to growing lists of accolades by being named to the All-Region I team.
Porter also earned Texas Girls Coaching Association All-State honors.
DeLaney was named MVP of District 8-5A while Odomes was named Offensive Player of the Year and Porter received the Coaches’ Award.
But each of the players’ coaches acknowledged that being named All-Region I was a particularly high honor.
“That’s 40 players overall that were selected in the state from the 4A and 5A combined and to be selected into that elite group of players is amazing,” Ellison girls head coach Sherry McKinnon said. ”As a junior, that says a lot about her as a person and as a basketball player. She’s worked extremely hard and I believe she’s getting the recognition that she deserves.”
Harker Heights boys head coach Celneque Bobbitt also pointed out that these players weren’t nominated by coaches. It was statewide recognition that earned each player the nod.
“(DeLaney) was nominated from the regional selection board,” Bobbitt said. “It’s not like you put a name in and try to send it in to the board. They called me and they told me they were going to put him on the team.”
The board also told Bobbitt that Odomes was going to be on the team, a player that Bobbitt is familiar with as an 8-5A opponent, and a player that Cove head coach Billy White Jr. has become even more familiar with as Odomes has been a varsity player from the day he stepped on campus.
“I think that he’s definitely an all-region player,” White said, “and one of the top players in the state.”
Porter and DeLaney were key cogs for district championship teams this past season. For DeLaney, that meant being the Knights’ floor general -- “like an Avery Johnson,” Bobbitt said -- while for Porter, it meant asserting herself more as a scorer.
“I saw her shooting more rather than just being the assist person,” McKinnon said.
Odomes, meanwhile, helped Cove to its second straight playoff appearance by doing everything from leading the Bulldawgs in scoring to dropping off the game-winning assist like he did in a regular-season win against Shoemaker that clinched Cove’s playoff spot.
“Everything that he does on the court is valuable to our team,” White said.
For DeLaney, the honor is just one to add to a growing list before he heads off to Sam Houston State.
“Only thing he needs now is try to get him a second-team all-state and get invited to a couple of TABC All Star games,” Bobbitt said.
For Porter and Odomes, however, it adds more momentum heading into next season, where McKinnon and White feel lucky to have them again.
“It’s great,” McKinnon said.
“I’m excited to have her back and even in the offseason right now I’m seeing such growth in her and just her, even more, working on her leadership ability to get kids to follow her.”
“He’s a great basketball player and I’m glad that he’s in our program and I’m really looking forward to this next year,” White said.
“It’s going to be one of the longest offseasons that I think I’ve experienced because I’m waiting to get back going next season.
“I can’t wait until October.”