Bellaire/West U. Roundup: Card boys hope to move up spot
The Bellaire boys soccer team lost the District 20-5A title to Westside by a single point a year ago.
With a number of players returning from a talented 13-5-4 squad, the Cardinals could ascend to first place.
"I think we're good enough to compete for a district championship and, hopefully, make it past the second round of the playoffs," said a confident Bellaire head coach Ray Kanzig.
Offensively, Bellaire might be without peer among its league foes. Kanzig says the Cardinals have a number of scoring threats on the roster.
Brothers Luis and Jorge Contreras power the attack at left and attacking center midfielder, respectively.
Luis Contreras, a senior, is a four-year varsity letter-winner. He made first-team, all-district last season after tallying 13 goals and five assists. He was an all-region selection as a sophomore.
Jorge Contreras, a junior, has started for much of the past two seasons. He was an all-district and all-region pick after delivering seven goals and 11 assists.
"Luis has had a great career at Bellaire, and Jorge is well on his way. He was the midfielder of the year in the district last year," Kanzig said. "Both of those guys are all over the field. They're special players."
Junior Jonathan Montano is back at right midfielder. He is a three-year varsity player, contributing four goals and a pair of assists last season.
"Jonathan is a very skillful player," Kanzig said. "He's very athletic and we can plug him into any hole in the midfield."
At the moment, Kanzig is rotating three players at the defensive center midfielder slot — senior Corey Shulman, junior Cam Carter and junior Olle Ax, a foreign exchange student from Sweden. Junior Frank Gil, one of the Cardinals most versatile players, also is capable of starting.
Junior Challa Workineh, now in his third varsity season, is one of Bellaire's most prolific scorers. In an injury-plagued season, Workineh tallied eight goals in nine starts.
"Challa definitely makes the most of his opportunities," Kanzig said.
There's plenty of competition at the other forward position, with Gil trying to fend off sophomores Carlos Castellon and Lazaro Moreira. Castellon and Moreira combined for 18 goals while starring on the junior varsity.
Senior Kyle Zimmermann missed all of last season with injuries, but he and junior Christoph Sturm, a German exchange student, are the top candidates at goalkeeper.
Senior Tony Black, the left back, is the veteran of the defense. Junior Marvin Kunde, from Germany, is the right back. The center backs are sophomore Oscar Aguilera and possibly Ax. Senior Gilberto Martinez is sidelined with an injury, but he should command plenty of playing time.
By choice, Kanzig is carrying a smaller roster than usual this season. However, there's still depth, with sophomore midfielder/defender Camilo Mora, senior forward/defender John Wattenbarger, sophomore defender Abduvas Benitez and freshman defender Hector Quintanilla readily available.
"We've got a lot of seniors and sophomores," Kanzig said. "It's a nice mix of veterans and newcomers."
Bellaire will compete in the Houston ISD Invitational on Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 20-22, before kicking off District 20-5A play against rival Lamar 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25, at Butler Sr. Stadium.
Lamar to contend
Lamar head boys soccer coach Paul Derks has no doubts that his Redskins will compete for the District 20-5A championship.
That fact was evident by Lamar's performance at The Woodlands Kilt Cup, the first tournament of the season. The Redskins went 3-0 in pool play, edging Beaumont Westbrook 2-1, Spring 2-1 in a shootout and Dulles 3-0. Lamar eventually fell to Westfield 1-0 - in another shootout, no less - but looked like a legitimate title contender.
"It's unfortunate that we lost to Westfield, because we had chances, but it's a great start to the season," Derks said. "In all seriousness, if we play like this, we can go a long way."
Derks, who moved to Houston from Grand Rapids, Mich., and is in his first year at Lamar, freely admits he doesn't know much about recent history in District 20-5A. However, he expects the Redskins, who have 14 seniors on their varsity roster, to push Westside and Bellaire, the league's top two teams.
The reason for Derks' confidence? A defense that could be one of the stingiest in District 20-5A.
Senior Kyle Nielsen, the starting goalkeeper, blanketed the net. Nielsen came up with a number of crucial saves, including several during the shootouts.
"If it weren't for Kyle, we wouldn't have made the (tournament) finals," Derks said. "Kyle did an amazing job."
Derks has opted for a 3-5-2 alignment, mainly because he believes his defenders - seniors Daniel Krause, Henry Toy and Calvin Zarzuela - can handle the pressure. Krause is the central defender, while Toy and Zarzuela are stationed on the left and right sides, defensively.
"The defense is our bread and butter," Derks said. "If our defenders are on top of their games, we're not going to give up many goals."
Junior Gus Valega powers the midfield line from his central attacking midfielder spot. Valega is a team captain, not to mention one of Lamar's most well-rounded players.
"Gus is an incredible shooter, but his role is to control the middle of the field and get the ball to the right people," Derks said.
The other offensive midfielders are seniors Scott Ramsey and Alex Schrader, both of whom could become prolific scorers. Meanwhile, senior Luke Reed and sophomore Edgar Gongora are the defensive center midfielders.
Senior Elliot McGilbra and senior J.C. Gonzalez are the forwards. McGilbra racked up three goals at The Woodlands.
"I think Elliot is one of the best players in our district," Derks said. "He and J.C. work well together. They know where each other is going to be. Having them both up top will give us an edge."
The Redskins possess plenty of depth, which already has proven beneficial. Sophomore midfielder Ian O'Brien, projected to be one of Lamar's biggest weapons, is out for the season with a fractured ankle that required surgery.
"Fortunately, we have lots of good players, particularly midfielders," Derks said.
Coming off the bench sophomore defender Shalev Amiel, senior forward Mario Corrales and senior midfielders Bryan Granados and Chang Whang.
Next up for Lamar is the Brenham Cup on Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 20-22, followed by the District 20-5A opener against Bellaire at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25, at Butler Sr. Stadium.
Madison in control in 20-5A
The Madison boys basketball team is looking like the one to beat in District 20-5A.
The Marlins swept Westbury 84-67 and Lamar 71-66 to move to 5-0 in league play.
The duo of Roderick Smith and Clarence Shelvin led the way. Against Westbury, Smith scored 25 points and Shelvin 20. The order was reversed against Lamar, with Shelvin and Smith contributing 22 and 21 points, respectively.
Madison will face Sam Houston at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at Butler Sports Complex in its next District 20-5A contest.
Ritters dominate swim meet
Lamar swept a dual meet against rival Bellaire, with the girls winning 179-121 and boys prevailing 171-141.
That bodes well for the Redskins, who host the District 20-5A Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday, Jan. 28, at the Lamar Natatorium.
However, Bellaire's Ritter clan grabbed the attention against Lamar, combining for five individual gold medals and two more as part of relays.
Jake Ritter, a senior, swept the 200-yard individual medley (2:07.18) and 100 freestyle (47.94). He also anchored the victorious 200 freestyle relay (1:32.61).
Kaleigh Ritter, a junior, grabbed the 200 freestyle (2:03.23) and 500 freestyle (5:27.91). Bridget Ritter, a freshman, won the 100 breaststroke (1:14.07) and took second in the 200 individual medley (2:19.97). The two sisters also swam on the first-place 400 freestyle relay (4:09.00) and second-place 200 medley relay (2:05.00).
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