Houston's Westbury Christian School traditionally has been a basketball giant among the private school ranks. The team is the two-time defending TAPPS Class 4A state champion, and it has won three state titles in the last five seasons.
Monday night, however, may have been the ultimate turning point. Westbury Christian no longer was looked at as a great private program. It's now a great program, period.
Westbury Christian defeated two-time UIL Class 4A state champion Houston Yates, 103-91, in the finals of the 71st annual Houston ISD Boys Basketball Tournament at Delmar Fieldhouse. Westbury Christian improved to 17-0 and became the first in-state team since Alief Elsik to beat Yates. In fact, the Wildcats beat Yates, last year's mythical national champion, exactly two years to the day of Elsik beating the respected Lions.
"It was big. We had a lot of guys involved in the win," Westbury Christian coach Russell Carr said. "You know that everybody sees Yates and where they are. As far as basketball in Houston, they're definitely the marker. They're a very good team that is well-coached. It was just a good win and a good opportunity for our kids."
Yates recently had a 66-game winning streak snapped by national power Findlay Prep out of Henderson, Nev. The Lions, featuring Clyde Santee, Damyeon Dotson and Weber State signee Shai Fields, are now 10-2 on the season.
Westbury Christian's Delvin Dickerson was named the tournament MVP, as he finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds, using his burly, 6-foot-5 frame to his advantage inside. Dickerson was supported by excellent guard play, including Anthony Collins and Tyler Guidry, who gave the Wildcats their 100th point.
It has been rare in recent seasons to see Yates not score 100 points on its opponent. It's been borderline impossible to watch Yates not score 100 points and also allow 100.
"We knew we had to just stay consistent and work hard," Carr said. "This will be good for us going forward. It shows that when we try to do things right on the court, good things will happen."
Carr continued: "Delvin was big for us the whole tournament. He's really skilled, and his ability to finish around the basket was great. It's hard to talk about him without talking about Anthony and Tyler, as well. They did a great job of getting him the ball in traffic. It was such a team effort."
Westbury Christian will enjoy the next couple of days, but the team knows that a Yates win doesn't mean an automatic third consecutive state title. The Wildcats also know that even more so, they will be the team everybody guns for. Westbury Christian next will compete in the Caprock Tournament Dec. 28-30 in Lubbock.
"We've been successful and have a successful program, and we've always seen that target on us," Carr said. "That target just got a little larger. The good thing is we have senior leadership who believe in what we do. As long as we stay consistent, we're going to be fine."