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Cinco Ranch senior wings Derek Dickenscheidt, left, and Jayden Collymore.

Cinco Ranch High seniors Jayden Collymore and Derek Dickenscheidt have known each other since they were in the sixth grade, as rivals at Cinco Ranch and Beck junior highs.

“He was so good going to his left. I just remember we always tried to push him to the right,” Dickenscheidt said.

These days, Collymore and Dickenscheidt are team captains and three-year varsity lettermen for the Cougars. Dickenscheidt has learned what other opponents have: it’s easier said than done to force Collymore away from his dominant hand. And Collymore is much more comfortable playing with Dickenscheidt than against him.

“We’ve grown up together, we’ve trained together,” Collymore said. “We both put in the work. I think what helps us is we’re both competitive, but we’re not selfish. We’re trying to prove who’s better, and that relationship just makes the team better. We both want to be the best.”

So far, they’re off to a great start in their swan songs at Cinco Ranch, which won five of its first eight games to start this season. Both are 6-foot-5 versatile wings who can play any position. Both can score at all three levels: 3-point range, midrange and at the basket. And both are driven to leave their marks as Cougars.

“I want to leave a legacy behind and I’m trying to do my best to make my team successful,” Collymore said. “I’m sure Derek would tell you the same thing. It’s all about how you want to look at yourself when the game is over. Am I going to be happy because I left everything on the court, or am I going to be wishing I did more? So that’s my mindset. Leave it all out there.”

During a blowout 92-66 win against Cypress Ridge on Nov. 26, both did, showcasing precisely why Cinco Ranch can be a nightmare to defend.

Collymore scored 34 points to go with eight rebounds, hitting three of five 3-point attempts. Dickenscheidt scored the game’s first six points and finished with 14 to go with 11 rebounds and eight assists.

“They’ve played a lot of varsity basketball, and you can’t coach experience,” Cougars coach Neil King said. “When you have guys who’ve played as many varsity games as they’ve played, you’re going to find success. They’re high-IQ players, friends on and off the court … it doesn’t surprise me they’re playing the way they are.”

Either Collymore or Dickenscheidt is capable of rebounding and starting the break. Dickenscheidt, in particular, showed an affinity for initiating the Cougars’ transition game; his ballhandling has improved considerably thanks to constant fullcourt skill drills during the offseason with AAU trainers Stephon Leary and Chris Hynes.

Collymore’s shooting is his most notable improvement this season, boasting a quicker, smoother release after shooting 1,000 shots a day during the summer.

That has opened up his game, as opponents can no longer simply play him to shoot. After averaging 11.7 points per game last season, Collymore is averaging 22 this season to go with seven rebounds and two assists per game. He was named to the all-tournament team of the prestigious McDonald’s Texas Invitational last week after averaging 29.7 points per game.

“I told people last year, ‘Next year, you’re going to see a different side of me,’” Collymore said. “First two games—25 (points), 35 (points). I’m here to prove why I’m one of the best in the Houston area. I have a chip on my shoulder, and I want to prove what I’m capable of.”

Collymore and Dickenscheidt work seamlessly together despite having similar skillsets. Dickenscheidt credits the time playing together on varsity that started two seasons ago, when King put Collymore and Dickenscheidt into the starting lineup during the second half of district play in their sophomore season.

“That experience early was big, and it’s kind of transitioned now that our roles have expanded,” said Dickenscheidt, who is averaging 14 points, five rebounds and three assists per game. “We click. If he’s hot, I’ll feed him, and vice versa. We just want to help the team win. Yeah, we have to be a little more assertive and look for our shot more, but it’s still about playing the game and making the right play.”

After years of Jay Jay Chandler and Jaron Presley handling the primary shot-taking and scoring duties, the Cougars are more of a balanced team this year. Either Collymore or Dickenscheidt can score or find the open teammate. It just depends on how the defense is playing.

And because of a slew of injuries so far, the Cougars have been able to establish depth that will pay off later this season. Against Cy-Ridge, key contributors Braedon Edison and Jonathan Joseph were unavailable. Still, players like senior Chris Ngene, senior Takura Machaka and sophomore Hunter Betke stepped up and were productive in the win.

Dickenscheidt said because of his teammates’ ability to shoot and space the floor, he often finds himself one-on-one, keeping the defense on its heels.

“We’re making the most of it, going out and playing as hard as we can every game,” Dickenscheidt said. “Hopefully it will lead us to a district championship and deep into the playoffs.”

That’s what King is counting on. Or, who he’s counting on.

“This is it for them. They know it’s the last. They want to leave their legacy,” King said. “They’ve been a part of really good teams in the past, and I tell them all the time, ‘Hey, this is your team. Make the most of it.’ They’re our leaders. We’re going to lean on them.”