District 24-4A basketball kicked off Friday night with teams beginning their journey towards the playoffs.

Of the four teams that went to the playoffs last season, three made it at least two rounds, with Wharton making it to the regional semi-final.

Despite playoff success, in district play no team stood out last year. One loss separated the four playoff teams. Wharton and Brookshire Royal had a 7-3 record, winning a share of the district championship. Navasota and Sealy also made the playoffs with 6-4 records.

El Campo missed the playoffs finishing 4-6 but losing three of their last four games by a total of five points. Bellville was the only team without a win.

District play should again be tight, maybe even tighter this season. Royal brings back the district’s Newcomer Of The Year and a first-team all-district player. Navasota is the only other hoops squad bringing back a first-team all-district player.

Bellville on the season is 9-14 and is returning two players from last season’s team.

“We are very young with two freshman and four sophomores,” Bellville coach Ralph Almanza said. “They are very hard working and getting better every week. Looking forward to seeing them compete in a very tough district.”

Wharton has two returners this season and is 11-8 on the year.

“This group has really gotten better since the beginning of the season. With us being so young and with so many new faces this year on our varsity, I was really interested in seeing who was going to step up,” Wharton coach Clavin King said. “The most pleasant surprise was that it wasn’t just one or two guys. We have had seven different guys score in the double digits throughout the regular season and it’s really helped us be very difficult to defend.”

Navasota has two starters back this year and is 9-12 entering district.

“We have played a difficult schedule up to this point and have made a lot of strides in non-district play,” Navasota coach Chris Randolph said. “I am excited about our team as we move into district play.”

Royal is 7-13 entering district play; they have two returning players this season.

“Through non-district games I’ve seen us get better and never stop competing despite missing guys from injuries. The team had displayed a next man up mentality,” Royal coach David Carpentier said.

El Campo has two returners, including Trinceton Foley, who was named to the all-district second team. El Campo finished non-district with a 11-8 record.

“We have been playing (an) up-tempo style of basketball, which is what I envisioned for the program,” El Campo coach Kevin Lewis. “Our defense has been pretty solid so far and hopefully we can turn it up a notch during district.”

Sealy is 10-9 heading into district play and are 4-1 in their last five games. Sealy junior Ryder Ramirez has been their go-to scorer, leading the team with 13 points per game.

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