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Dec, 2019

Wagner Surges Past Steele

By: Antonio G. Castillo

Cibolo, TX-

Wagner and Steele have earned the crown of San Antonio’s top two public high school programs over the last 4 seasons with both earning multiple trips to the State Final Four and being the Region IV representative.

On Monday night, the both tangled after a scheduling oversight had their game shifted from Tuesday night.

The contest remained in the balance late, as on two occasions, Steele fought back from as much as a 17-point first half deficit, to make it a 3 point game in crunch time. Eli Mcgouyrk would pick up a loose ball and go three-fourths of the floor to lay it in, and make it a 60-57 game.

As he did all night, Journee Phillips answered with a tough and one. He got the shot to fall on a strong driving bucket and just as important, hit the free throw, giving Wagner the 64-57 late with just under 5 minutes to play.

Steele wasn’t done either, Jackson Byas would splash in a trey from just off center, and the Knights were right back in business, trailing 65-62, right at the 4 minute mark.

It was from here that the Thunderbirds would close the game on a 14-6 run, and secure the 79-68 win, over Steele.

Key buckets from Phillips, a tough layup in close by junior guard Jaseasn Jackson, and more free throws by teammate, senior Braelon Seals, wrapped up the victory.

Head Coach Rodney Clark gave his thoughts on the non-district win, “It’s a good victory because Steele is a good program. It’s always fun and tough to come play, especially at Steele. There’s little things we still need to work on if we’re going to make a trip to the Alamodome, but overall I enjoyed our efforts.”

Phillips led the attack on the night, pouring in a game high 28 points. Constantly making the Knights pay with his ability to slash, attack off the dribble, and use his strong frame to finish time after time at the hoop. Point guard Braelon Seals continues to show off a much improved jumper, adding 18 points (unofficial), connecting on three 3-pointers, and showing consistency in his perimeter game that has opened some eyes of onlooking college coaches.

“I think he’s improved overall offensively. Defensively, had he stayed, he’d got another year of learning how to do it. He’s getting back into the routine of our defense. He’s a good floor leader, he’s smart, his IQ is high. He’s just gotta continue to do what we want him to do,” said Clark.

In the first half, the Thunderbirds opened up nearly a 20-point lead and it was much to the credit of Both Seals and Phillips who again have complimented each other very well in the early part of the season.

Credit to the Knights for not laying down and battling all the way back to make it a one possession contest late. Offensively, junior guard Akhwari Smith finished with a team high 21pts (unofficial), Jackson Byas added 13, and off the bench, Eli Washington provided a spark with 11 points and 7 rebounds.

Sidenote: Texas State University and Texas A&M-Kingsville University both had assistant coaches in the building watching the talent.