High School Basketball

Cougars quickly acclimating to new coach Collier

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 1/11/21

As if trying to play a season in midst of a pandemic wasn’t enough, Cinco Ranch’s girls basketball team is hoping to sustain the momentum built from last year’s playoff appearance, the first in four seasons for the program.

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High School Basketball

Cougars quickly acclimating to new coach Collier

Posted

As if trying to play a season in midst of a pandemic wasn’t enough, Cinco Ranch’s girls basketball team is hoping to sustain the momentum built from last year’s playoff appearance, the first in four seasons for the program.

Even more, the Cougars are attempting to do so under a new head coach.

They’re making the most of an accelerated learning curve.

In is coach Tamara Collier, a former McDonald’s All-American nominee at Duncanville High who went 122-49 at the helm of Jersey Village over five seasons before taking the Cougars’ job last summer. Collier has quickly established her own culture, and while the Cougars have a lot of room to grow in that aspect, they’re winning games and again in the thick of another playoff race in the meantime, earning a 8-5 overall record and 4-3 District 19-6A standing.

“Some of the things we’re trying to show them, it’s ‘Oh, Coach, we’ve never done this before,’” Collier said. “To me, that’s a positive. When you have seniors come up to you saying they’re doing things they’ve never done here before, that’s good. Now let’s keep it going. We’re sowing the seeds now.”

Collier is emphasizing communication and playing hard and together.

“The biggest difference is intensity,” senior guard Abby Bala said. “We’re definitely playing at a higher pace, faster speed. With Coach, it’s about the little things, like running back on defense, not floating on layups, talking. In a short period of time, it’s been a huge change.”

Collier wants players to be responsible for their performances. Everything has a consequence. Ten pushups for missed layups during practices. Early morning workouts the day after a bad game.

“She holds us accountable for all the little things, and I really like that,” junior forward Madison Mascorro said. “Last year, our coach didn’t really enforce it as much. I actually enjoy it. It makes you take more pride in performance.”

The Cougars’ roster consists of six sophomores, many of whom played on the freshman team last season, but their play is balanced with the talents of Bala and Mascorro. Bala, a Missouri Western State signee, is a two-way playmaker averaging a team-best 17.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and three steals. She has worked tirelessly to improve her perimeter shooting, and it’s showed. Bala is connecting on 35 percent of her 5.5 3-point attempts per game.

The 5-foot-10 Mascorro has blossomed from a shooting specialist to an all-around scorer, averaging 10.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. Primarily a 3-point gunner last season, she has only taken 13 triples this season and is tied for first on the team in free-throw makes and second in free-throw attempts as she is more confident attacking the basket.

“They play their hearts out,” Collier said of her veteran duo. “When you talk about a kid that wants it, Abby wants it on both ends of the floor. Madison is a perfectionist. I love that about her. Her mindset is to give me a perfect game every time out, and if she doesn’t, she’s going to work at it.”

Collier said the acclimation to the varsity game for her sophomores remains a work in progress. The speed and competitiveness game to game can be challenging, and they’ve been thrown into the fire during district play because of an abbreviate non-district slate of just six games.

Still, the sophomore class does have an impressive base of talent. Guards Dani Williams and Sofia Budnik are starters, and post Sophie Baran and guard Briana Broxson are valuable contributors off the bench.

“They’ll make mistakes because they’re young, but the big thing is getting them to grow from it,” Bala said. “We’re just trying to help where we can and keep them going.”

Collier said she’s not surprised the Cougars have been as successful as they have been in spite of significant change. She has a roster of youth, experience, depth and talent.

“For the most part, it’s trying to change the whole culture,” Collier said. “Trying to get them to play hard. Trying to get them to buy into something new. It’s different from having a male coach (like before), but at the same time the level of intensity is what we’re looking for. They’ve been playing so hard and playing together, and now it’s about building that chemistry around each other.”

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