High School Girls Basketball

Bala, Cinco Ranch fall in area round, but strides made

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 2/20/21

Step by step, Cinco Ranch’s girls basketball team made considerable strides over the last few seasons.

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High School Girls Basketball

Bala, Cinco Ranch fall in area round, but strides made

Posted

Step by step, Cinco Ranch’s girls basketball team made considerable strides over the last few seasons.

After making the playoffs for the first time since 2015-16 last season, the Cougars won a playoff game for the first time since 2014-15 this season before running into the freight train disguised as Cy-Creek, the No. 1 team in Class 6A in the state.

Cinco Ranch’s season came to a halt in the area round, as Cy-Creek ran away with a 67-29 win in their Class 6A area playoff on Saturday at the Merrell Center, but it is a program heading in the right direction.

“We got better,” said senior guard Abby Bala, who scored a team-high 14 points to go with two steals. “My freshman and sophomore years, we didn’t make the playoffs at all. Junior year, we made it. This year, we made it to the second round. We just kept improving, and I don’t think you can ask for anything more than that.”

Cinco Ranch ended its season 13-7 overall in coach Tamara Collier’s first year at the helm. Cy-Creek, undefeated at 28-0, was simply too much, led by its senior backcourt of University of Texas signees Kyndall Hunter and Rori Harmon.

Hunter scored a game-high 23 points and drilled 10 of 18 shots to go with four steals. Harmon scored 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with six rebounds, three assists and two steals.

“They’re tough,” Bala said. “They’re both going to UT, and you’ve just got to play hard and give it all you’ve got.”

Cy-Creek forced 15  turnovers and outrebounded Cinco Ranch, 35-24. Cinco Ranch played hard and did not back down from its elite opponent despite Cy-Creek having the upper hand in size, talent and athleticism.

“We’ve got kids that fight and take on the challenge,” Collier said. “We came out flat at the beginning, and it became about who was going to have heart and fight. Regardless of how great of a team Cy-Creek is, our girls took that challenge. I appreciate that from all the girls.”

Bala played aggressively all game long, but surrounded by a core of inexperienced, raw talent, she had little help. Junior Madison Mascorro and sophomore Dani Williams scored four points apiece. Aside from Bala, Cinco Ranch players were often reluctant to shoot against the speed and length of Cy-Creek’s defense.

Collier started just two seniors against Cy-Creek, Bala and forward Samara Simpson. Five sophomores played in the first half, when Cinco Ranch saw a seven-point deficit after the first quarter bloom into a 32-13 disadvantage at halftime.

Cinco Ranch never stopped hustling—Bala and Co. dove for many loose balls during the fourth quarter—but Cy-Creek generated easier offense off its 14 steals.

Sophomore Sofia Budnik led Cinco Ranch with eight rebounds. Mascorro added five rebounds.

“I love this team,” Bala said. “I love working with them. I wish I had another game with them, but I don’t. I’ll miss them, but they have a good future.”

Bala will play at Missouri Western State next year. She will go knowing she helped give her all in reviving Cinco Ranch’s program.

Bala saw growth in her perimeter shooting and leadership ability this season. It wasn’t an easy year, as she had to adjust to a slew of underclassmen and a new head coach with fewer games and practices due to COVID-19 issues, but she made the most of it.

“I learned so much, like talking the team up, picking others up,” Bala said. “Play hard. College is going to be a different level, so I learned how to compete better, harder.”

Collier said she wished she had more years with her star guard Bala, the leader of a departing senior class that includes Simpson, Mariann Garcia, Krystyna Podskarbi and Isabella Meyers.

“I love that kid,” Collier said. “She plays hard every day. She wanted someone to push her. I challenged her all the time, and she kept wanting more and more.”

The future is now the present for Collier and Cinco Ranch, a foundation and culture still waiting to be realized.

“Being able to push each other and getting these girls to play more year-round,” Collier said of what the team can build upon. “A lot of them don’t. Once this team starts holding each other accountable for how hard they need to work, I guarantee Cinco Ranch will be on the map.”

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