The Northwest Texans are no longer flying under the radar.
After their 18-3 start, including 5-0 in District 4-5A, the Texans jumped to No. 5 in the Class 5A poll released Monday by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.
It’s been a rapid rise for Northwest, which didn’t enter the poll until Jan. 6 at No. 9.
“People know who we are now after the way we started off the year,” said Northwest coach Michael Hatch. “We felt like we were going to be a good team. The kids are playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
The Texans are coming off a 76-40 dismantling of Keller Central Friday to maintain a game lead over the pack of Richland, Keller and Fossil Ridge. Elijah Christman paced the Texans with 24 points. Taylor Johnson added 14 points and six rebounds.
The victory was the sixth straight for the Texans since the second-round loss at the Whataburger Tournament to Jonesboro, Ark. It was only the second double-digit win for the Texans during the streak. Northwest escaped with a five-point win over Keller Timber Creek and a three-point victory against Richland. Three of the Texans’ five league wins are by three points or less.
“Just about all the games in district have been grinders,” Hatch said. “In those games, you have to execute. The guys are doing that.”
The Texans are averaging 59 points per outing. Three players are averaging double figures in scoring with Christman leading the way at 16.3. Johnson is adding 14.7 points, and Josh Tatum 10.2.
Tatum is also handing out 6.4 assists per game on a team that averages 12.8.
“It’s a very unselfish group,” Hatch said. “We’ve got kids that can shoot the ball. But they are not worrying about who is scoring. They are passing and rebounding. They all have one goal – to win.”
Starting with Tuesday’s game at home against Keller, the Texans face a tough stretch against two league contenders. Northwest will play at Fossil Ridge Friday.
“It’s the biggest week of the year so far,” Hatch said. “If we get two wins this week, we’ll be in great shape.”
But it will not be easy against the two Keller schools that feature contrasting styles. Hatch said Keller will slow the pace and play tight defense.
“We’ve got to take care of the ball,” he said.
An athletic Fossil Ridge team features a pair of Division I recruits in guard Ryan Parker and center Bryce Jackson.
“They will play man-to-man and go up and down the floor,” Hatch said.
The Northwest coach explained his team can adapt to either style.
“Our kids can play either way,” he said. “That’s the good thing about this team.”
Everyone around the state is noticing a lot of good things about the Texans these days.