Sugar Land Five return for another season of Coyote basketball


Last season ended on an optimistic note for the Weatherford College Coyote basketball team, largely because of a group of five freshmen players from the same Houston suburb. They were called the “Sugar Land Five.”

10 23 17 Sugar Land FiveAnd with all of them back, that optimism is carrying over into this season for the Coyotes as they try to not only return to the Region V Tournament, but to also win the Region V North championship.

“That one year, all of them playing together, makes a difference,” Coyotes head coach Mark Osina said. “On paper, this is the best talent I’ve had on this team since I’ve been back.”

Osina returned to coach the Coyotes in 2013 after having left for a few years in 2008. His previous stint at the school started in 1991 and included numerous trips to the playoffs and a third-place finish in the NJCAA Tournament.

“The chemistry is strong, and I feel really good about our depth,” Osina said.

The Coyotes were 16-13 overall and 4-8 in conference play last season. The conference record is, however, somewhat deceiving. They lost six games by nine points or less and were in the running for the postseason until a loss to Hill in the final week.

“When you only play 12 conference games, you don’t have a margin for error,” Osina said. “But I can tell these guys are hungry and feel they have something to finish.”

All five of the returning sophomore starters played in the same Fort Bend School District, starting with the conference’s leading scorer in 6-foot 7-inch guard/forward Zach Naylor of Travis (20.0 points, 9.1 rebounds). Joining him are 5-9 guard Tyrik Armstrong of Elkins (15.1 points), 5-10 guard Ken Busby of Elkins (15.9 points, 5.3 assists, 2.2 steals), Chance Edwards of Clements (12.1 points) and Josh Ihek of Bush (4.9 points).

That’s 68 points per game averaged just among those five. Add in sophomores Dustin Holmes (6-1 guard, Moreauville, Louisiana), Travis Barnett (6-0 guard, Bahamas, sixth man last season), Naim Rabay (6-9 post, Lebanon) and Ron Whitelow (5-10 guard, Memphis), and you have 82 points per game returning to the Coyotes.

The Coyotes averaged 90.4 points for the season.

“That’s a pretty good percentage coming back,” Osina said with a smile.

However, the Coyotes might have to wait on the return of Busby. He’s recovering from a foot injury sustained during the summer.

“I’m not pushing it. Any time you break a foot and you put a screw in there, it’s sensitive,” Osina said. “We’ve got lots to work with until he returns, and we want him at his best when he does return.”

As for who will step in, Osina said, “I’m playing around with several ideas. We might see several faces. They’ll all get plenty of playing time.”

The list of freshmen newcomers includes:

  •  Ansu Sesay, 6-4 forward/post, Houston
  • Keylan Adams, 6-4 guard/forward, Pearland
  • Jesse White, 6-6 forward/post, Houston
  • Shakur Robinson, 6-7 post, Cincinnati
  • Derrick Cook, 6-7 post, Lipan

“Ansu’s dad played in the NBA, so he has a great pedigree, and Keylan being a leftie is always a plus,” Osina said. “Jesse and Shakur have both been a pleasant surprise. We brought in some really good talent that I think is going to mix well with what we have back. The new guys are fitting in.”

As for the conference race, Osina expects it to once again be exciting with high-scoring games and close contests.

“Scoring is not going to be a problem, the edge will come to whoever can play better defense and stay healthy, keep the team concept,” Osina said. “I think it will again be tight all the way through, but I would think we’ll be in the mix for a conference championship.”

Fans can get a glimpse of the Coyotes on Saturday, Oct. 28, when they host a day of scrimmages. The event is sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The schedule includes:

  •  Weatherford vs. Frank Phillips, 10 a.m.
  •  Paris vs. Texas Wesleyan, 11:45 a.m.
  • Howard vs. McLennan, 1:30 p.m.
  • Panola vs. Western Texas, 3:15 p.m.
  • Bossier Parish vs. New Mexico, 4:20 p.m.
  • New Mexico vs. Panola, 5:25 p.m.
  • Western Texas vs. Bossier Parish, 6:30 p.m.

by Rick Mauch