McDonald’s Texas Invitational 2016: Duncanville makes it five out of six
By Bob Corwin
The McDonald’s Texas Invitational generally has the best teams in the Greater Houston area in its field with the event held annually the weekend (Thursday to Saturday) before Thanksgiving in Deer Park and Pasadena, Texas. Then add in several good teams from around the state and you have a quality field! Duncanville has now won this event each of the last six years with the exception of 2014. Once again the defending Texas 6A State Champions and the consensus mythical national high school champions (4 separate polls) of last year swept the field with a perfect 5-0 record defeating previously unbeaten Clear Springs High School 61-48 in the championship game. In a state with so much basketball talent, the Pantherettes have been at or near the forefront in Texas for years. With most key players being underclassmen, look for Duncanville to be even stronger next year!
Being at the event only one day, we are taking a brief look at some of the talent rather than overall event performance…
Players below are listed alphabetically with height, position, graduation year and high school. School location is in parenthesis.
Charli Collier, 6-5, center/forward, 2018, Barbers Hill High School (Mont Belvieu, Texas)
Collier is considered one of the elite posts in the 2018 class. She can post up opponents (deadly in the paint) but also be effective stepping out to beyond the arc to hit the three. She scored 32 points in one viewing.
Sierra Cheatham, 6-0, forward, 2017, Clear Springs High School (League City, Texas)
Cheatham, committed to Tulane, does a lot of things for her team. She will go inside and hit the boards or block a shot, not afraid of contact or physical play. Later she will be on the perimeter hitting shots inside or beyond the arc. She posted 18 points in one viewing.
Zarielle Green, 6-0, guard, 2018, Duncanville High School (Duncanville, Texas)
Green has enough size to play inside but also enough perimeter skill to be a threat to beyond the arc. A good athlete, she is being recruited at the Power 5 level. She received MVP honors for her efforts in Duncanville’s successful title defense at the event.
Hannah Gusters, 6-4, center, 2020, Duncanville High School (Duncanville, Texas)
Gusters is a name already being noted by college recruiters. Her body and game are a young version of Ciera Johnson (now at Louisville) who helped lead the Pantherettes to last year’s Texas 6A state title and consensus mythical national title. Gusters has good hands with game currently around the basket.
Deyona Gaston, 6-1, forward, 2020, Pearland High School (Pearland, Texas)
Gaston is really a perimeter player forced into the paint to help her otherwise small high school team. Here she scored in the paint, blocked shots, rebounded and helped set up teammates for open perimeter shots when the opposition collapsed on her. Posting 26 points in one viewing, Gaston is considered one of the top prospects in the 2020 class.
Starr Jacobs, 6-1, power forward, 2018, Duncanville High School (Duncanville, Texas)
Jacobs was an in-paint dynamo in Deer Park (where most of the games were played). She relentlessly follows missed shots. She is also adept at passing off when doubled in the paint. Coming back from knee surgery, her stock with Division I recruiters is just starting to rise. A 22-point performance in one viewing is just a small sampling of things to come.
Catherine Reese, 6-2, forward, 2018, Cypress Woods High School (Cypress, Texas)
Last year, Reese was part of one of the best front courts in Texas High School ball. Now with graduation of the two others of that trio, she has had to embrace a bigger role and has done so well. Reese likes to create her shot with an in-paint spin move looking to face-up at mid-range. Not contact adverse, she has a superior motor. Posting 22 points in one viewing, Reese has multiple Power 5 offers to choose from.
DiDi Richards, 6-2, small forward, 2017, Cypress Ranch High School (Cypress, Texas)
Richards, a Baylor commit, has a lot of versatility in her game. Thanks to her size and willingness to embrace physicality, she is a threat in the paint getting offensive rebounds at one end and blocking shots at the other. She is agile and skilled enough to step out and hit perimeter shots which is likely what she will do more of in college. In scoring 23 points in one viewing, it was easy to sum up her performance by saying Richards was all over the court during the contest.
Chasity Patterson, 5-5, point guard, 2017, North Shore High School (Houston, Texas)
Patterson, a Texas commitment, does it all for North Shore. She protects the ball, runs the offense and often takes the shot when the possession is over. Considered one of the top lead guards in the 2017 class, she posted 41 points in one viewing at the event.
Joanne Allen-Taylor, 5-6, shooting guard, 2018, Cypress Falls High School (Houston, Texas)
Allen-Taylor carries much of the offense for her team. She looks to attack going right and will spot up for the three-ball. Currently being recruited by several high mid-majors, she posted 26 points in one viewing at Deer Park.