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By: Darrell Ardison


Perhaps the best-kept secret in Houston area high school basketball resides in the Third Ward community at Jack Yates High School.

While the unbeaten boys varsity squad has garnered national headlines to this season’s midpoint, there’s another team on campus that has kept pace.

The Lady Lions under head coach Patrick Augbon registered victories over District 21-4A rivals Westbury (81-27) and Jeff Davis (81-19) last week to improve its record to 16-0 on the season.

Fort Bend Bush came the closest to defeating Yates before losing by five points. Nobody in their own district can make that claim. Like their counterparts on campus, the Lady Lions have made life miserable for district opponents.

“Our goal going into each game is to hold our opponents under 40 points,” said Augbon, now in his fifth year as head coach at Yates. “We’re a pretty balanced team. We’ve got a number of players that can score and do some positive things on both ends of the court.”

In the win over Westbury that opened up the second half of district play, six Yates players scored eight points or more. Deana Darjean led the way with 21 points, Mariah Lee had 15, Mercedes Jackson chipped in with 14 while Chardai Thomas and Jaeisha Johnson finished with nine and eight points, respectively.

“We normally play eight or nine players, but we can play 12 if we have to,” Augbon said. “Deana and Mariah are the core players, as they go, we go.”

Augbon admitted that his team got off to a sluggish start in the first quarter against Westbury (13-4), but settled in during the second and third quarters when the game was decided.

Lee scored six of her 15 points in the first quarter.

In the second stanza when Yates outscored Westbury 23-10, Darjean supplied nine of her game-high 21 points, including a three-pointer. Lee added five points as the Lady Lions led 36-14 at intermission.

Yates exploded for 32 points in the third quarter to put the game away. Six Yates players had four or more points in the pivotal eight minutes following halftime.

“We thought we would be pretty good coming into the season, but what made us better was the arrival of Mariah Lee,” Augbon said. “She gives us the post presence that we didn’t have previously. Now when things are breaking down, we can go into the post and get points or go to the foul line.”

Augbon has six juniors that play on a regular basis.

Although rarely challenged in district play, Augbon says his team keeps its competitive edge in practice when they have some boys thrown in the mix.

“It gets pretty intense at practice,” he said. “We get a lot accomplished at practice.”

While the Yates boys are defending Class 4A state champions and currently ranked No. 1 in Texas and among the Top Five in several national polls, Augbon says his girls have no animosity towards their counterparts.

“We support the boys 110 percent,” he said. “We go to all their games and we do everything we can to assist them. It’s actually an incentive for us to see our boys doing so well. We look at it like can we keep up.”

Augbon says this is the quickest team he’s at Yates, which allows them to do a variety of things defensively. With the addition of Lee, his team can work an inside-outside game that was previously missing.

“We’re doing some things we were unable to do before and the main thing is being more aggressive,” he said. “We can operate our press and get the game going up-and-down at a tempo we like. We cause a lot of turnovers and get a lot of steals. That’s what we need to do.

“Between now and the end of the regular season, we want to improve our defense. That’s always our goal. We need to do a better job of blocking out and rebounding. Mostly, we need to execute.

“We have to be able to execute down the stretch when we’re involved in a close game,” Augbon said. “So from now until the playoffs begin, we’re going to work on execution. We’ve got to be able to get something when the game is on the line.”

Yates has a two-game edge over Reagan in the District 21-4A standings. Other schools competing for the two remaining postseason berths include Westbury, Stephen F. Austin and Waltrip.

The Lady Lions’ remaining district schedule is as follows:

Feb. 9 – Waltrip vs. Yates, Delmar, 6 p.m.

Feb. 15-16 – Bi-district round of playoffs, TBA.