Dedication, defense and discipline drive Titans success

Published 12:02 am Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Titans spirit is highlighted in the three Ds of Memorial High School basketball.

Coach Alden Lewis describes the first D as dedication, the crucial “buy-in” stage.

“Make sure you’re dedicated to the program,” he said. “Put God and your family first, and obviously school.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The second D is defense, and the third D is discipline.

Cameron Bryant makes a move into the lane during the playoffs. (Brian Quijada/Special to The News)

“Whether it’s in the classroom, out of the classroom, on the court and just in general, we did a very good job of being disciplined throughout the school year,” Lewis said.

The three Ds worked wonders, as the Titans had a season that exceeded all expectations in 2022-23. After finishing 8-15 two years ago and missing the playoffs last year with a 14-18 record, Lewis led the Titans to a 30-9 overall record and district championship this season.

The team began the season confidently, going 10-3 in its first 13 games.

“We started off 5-0, got ranked in the state of Texas. Obviously, that was good for the program,” said Lewis.

However, the Titans ship struck stormy seas in the 14th game of the year against Cedar Ridge, as star shooting guard Ke’Andre Jones went down with an ankle injury that would keep him off the court for three games.

Lewis admitted it hurt the team, but the Titans were able to scrape things up on the run.

“You know in a tournament you can’t prepare for something like that,” he said.

Memorial would lose two more games after this, and the final loss of that streak was a mid-season heartbreaker against powerhouse Beaumont United.

“We saw what we could be,” Lewis said. “These kids saw their potential. They saw what we could do, and we were able to go on a pretty good run after that.”

And so, the Memorial Titans welcomed the 5A State Playoffs with open arms.

Lewis and his men wasted no time in the first round, walloping Friendswood, 66-28.

When asked about the team’s mindset going into that first round game, Lewis said, “first, my assistant coach, Coach Coleman, he does a great job, man. Between him and myself, we got those boys believing. We’ve got two younger coaches on the staff, first year, they bought into the vision, as well. As far as the mindset goes, we finally grasped the mindset of competing to win. I tell them all the time that it’s one thing to get in the mindset to compete and another to get in the mindset of winning.”

The winning mindset prevailed in the second and third rounds, as the Titans trounced Fulshear High School, 57-42, and Sterling High School, 63-46.

In the fourth round, Memorial finally arrived at the battle the team prepared for all season.

Reginald Green goes all out for the ball in the Titans final game. (Brian Quijada/Special to The News)

The battle of who gets to move on to the regional championship. Win this, and only one game stands between your team and a spot in the state championship.

“We told the boys a year ago, Killeen Ellison is the team to beat,” Lewis said.

Ellison had gone three rounds deep the previous year in the 6A playoffs but due to the size of enrollment, dropped down to 5A this season. Unfortunately for the Titans, it just wasn’t written in the stars for them that night.

The Titans entered the fourth quarter down by nine and couldn’t claw their way back. Thus, the season’s journey was over.

Though not the outcome they wanted, there are no long faces in Titans country. Lewis has high expectations for next season.

Three all District players and an honorable mention all-district player are returning next season, as well as a few players from the freshman and JV squads who Lewis feels are ready play under the varsity lights.

In no particular order, the players explicitly named who could play a huge role next season are Kendall Hillstock, Geoffrey Morris, Hayden Underwood, Cam Bryant, Amir Young and Michael Williams.

“The boys are already excited for next season,” Lewis said. “These kids love the gym, man. I won’t have to be hunting them down. They’re going to be meeting me there. They’re going to be hunting me down.”

Lewis’ final thoughts offered on the season came in the form of gratefulness for the massive support from the community, something he has appreciated through the years.

“Continue to support these kids; they love it,” he said. “They love when the community comes out to follow the team. Believe it or not, they look forward to that a lot. The community helps them play better.”

He hopes the support next season is just as grand as the Titans gear up this offseason to show the state of Texas what dedication, defense and discipline can accomplish.

— Written by Clayton Eaves