Another path to state? Tekoa young but unblemished in district

Published 4:26 pm Saturday, February 10, 2018

With only one senior last season, Port Arthur’s Tekoa Academy reached the semifinals of the Texas Christian Athletic League Class 2A playoffs last season.

This season, the Cougars have no seniors — but they’re unbeaten in district play.

“This team is younger, but they have a heart of gold and courage,” Tekoa athletic director Andonnia Lowe said. “They don’t quit. They have individual stats and their own goals.”

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Don’t be mistaken; the individual goals have helped Tekoa (10-3, 7-0 in District 4-2A) remain unbeaten in their five-team league with one game left as they chase the team goal of a state championship.

The individual statistics are notable, too.

The Cougars’ leading scorer, Jailan Ardoin, is an eighth-grader, which Lowe said is allowable under TCAL rules because of Tekoa’s small enrollment. He’s averaging 28.6 points per game.

He’s not shy about being so young in a high schooler’s game.

“First I give honor to God for giving me the ability to play on a high school team as an eighth-grader,” said Ardoin, who’s in his second year on the team. “I was nervous playing my first game. Sometimes, you just go out there and give it your best.”

Sophomore Darryl Prevost is an all-around performer averaging 17.5 points and 5.4 steals per game, but he is excellent at finding the open man at a 5.6-assist per game clip.

“I like defense more because our offense comes through defense,” he said. “If they give it to me wide-open, I take the shot. If not, I give it to my teammates.”

Lesley Harmanson, a junior, is the Cougars’ senior statesman, so to speak. The 6-foot-3 center averages 12 points and 12.8 rebounds per game.
Leadership comes naturally to Harmanson.

“It’s not a burden,” he said. “As soon as [my teammates] act out, I try to get them in line. Whatever they need, I’m willing to do it for the team. I try hard to dominate and step out on the court every night.”

Third-coach Tekoa coach Melvin Sostand likes the camaraderie the most. The Cougars know how to stick together in tough situations and have played with an attitude that winning is contagious, he said.

“Their hard work, buying into a system, and I would say staying focused on the task at hand,” Sostand said about the Cougars’ qualities. “Playing together as a team has been a great success as well as never being satisfied. They’re disciplined not only on the court but in the classroom, too.”

Above all, Lowe said, the Cougars live up to their top goal of “keeping God first.”

“They’re well-mannered boys on and off the court,” Lowe said, “and they listen.”

The Cougars have a district game at home against Texas Christian School of Houston at approximately 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (girls tip off at 5:30 p.m.) and the regular-season finale against non-district opponent Light House, a Groves-based homeschool team, in Groves on Friday. Tekoa plays its home games at the Port Arthur Recreation Center, 1308 Ninth Ave.

The TCAL state playoffs are scheduled for March 1-3 in San Antonio at exact locations to be announced.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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