There are many critics in and outside of Houston of this season's Yates High School basketball team. They question whether or not the team this season has the talent to do what the program did last season and the season before that.
The ideas of a third consecutive UIL Class 4A state championship, while still so far away, fuels this season's team. In addition, maintaining the pressured precedence of winning -- and winning big -- makes the Lions just as hungry as the teams they face trying to pull off a stunning defeat.
Saturday afternoon, fellow Houston-area school Sam Houston High went into Delmar Fieldhouse with intentions of giving Yates its first loss since the 2008-09 season. Yates denied that charge -- and with a fury -- claiming a 120-46 victory and winning its 60th consecutive basketball game.
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Yates scored at least 120 points for the second time in any many games, and it did so in traditional fashion. The Lions (2-0) pressed Sam Houston for the majority of the game, letting up in the fourth quarter when the game was way out of reach.
All 15 players on the Yates roster scored, and eight of the 15 had at least eight points in the win. Clyde Santee led Yates with 19 points. Other major scoring contributors during the early season have included Damyeon Dotson and Weber State signee Shai Fields.
Yates had 36 points by the end of the first quarter and led, 61-28, at the half. The Lions finished with game with a 36-6 fourth-quarter barrage. Defensively, Yates forced 52 turnovers against a Sam Houston team that includes Texas State signee Dante Bachus
"I'm kind of happy with where we are right now," Yates coach Greg Wise told the Houston Chronicle, "but we're nowhere near where I think we'll be toward the middle of the season."
That's a scary thought, primarily for opposing teams, but then again, Wise said similar things early about last season's squad. That team went on to finish 34-0 and was named the consensus mythical national champion.
Last season's team featured players who had been on the same team since elementary school. This season's team is still trying to find its identity, as it has a couple of new faces. Among the new Lions are Fields, who transferred from Pearland, and Charles Bennett, an unsigned senior who transferred from Houston Milby.
"There's going to be a lot of expectations for us to win again," Bennett told TexasHoops.com prior to the start of the season. "The pressure doesn't bother me really. You just have to go out and play basketball."
Yates will play Houston Chavez on Tuesday and Houston Kashmere on Friday.