Guyer senior Jalen Wilson is a matchup nightmare for opponents.
Using his 6-foot-8 size to his advantage, the Wildcats’ star forward is tough to guard on the perimeter and has hit tough mid-range shots and converted difficult baskets in the paint throughout his high school career.
But Wilson has taken his game to another level as a senior, adding a lethal 3-point shot to his offensive arsenal. After shooting 33 percent from long range on a combined 127 attempts as a freshman and sophomore, Wilson hit 41-of-105 3-pointers last year (39 percent).
The Michigan signee has upped that number to 40.5 percent while again increasing his attempts, knocking down 55-of-136 shots from behind the arc this season.
“I’ve learned every year how to get shots off better,” Wilson, who is averaging 18.5 points and 7.6 rebounds, said. “As a freshman, I was playing against older kids and wasn’t strong enough or quick enough. I’ve trained to get it quicker, have a better and higher release — I’ve been shooting and working out more than I ever have before.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had as much confidence in my 3-point shot as I do now. Putting in the work and having the confidence to see the ball go in day in and day out has really helped.”
Wilson was 2-of-5 from deep and 10-of-18 from the field in Friday night’s win over No. 9 Richardson Pearce. His rare offensive skill set again will be key for Guyer when the Wildcats take on Mansfield Lake Ridge in the Class 6A Region I quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Grapevine.
Guyer, which has won 14 straight games since a 64-53 loss to No. 1 Duncanville on Dec. 29, is looking to advance to the regional tournament for the second straight year. The winner of Tuesday night’s game will advance to play either Odessa Permian or El Paso Americas at 8 p.m. Friday at the Wilkerson-Greines Center.
The 6A Region I championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re locked in and focused,” Guyer coach Grant Long said. “The guys don’t care about who scores or anything like that right now. It’s all about winning. When you have talented players buying into that, it’s really dangerous. It’s set the tone for us early in games, and that’s helped us have a good start in both playoff games — we expect it to be the same in this next one.”
Lake Ridge, the second-place finisher out of a tough District 7-6A, narrowly edged Lake Highlands 64-62 in the first round of the playoffs before defeating Coppell 72-60 Friday night. The Eagles are led by Joey Madimba and Tahlik Chavez, who will captain a fast-paced attack predicated on dribble drives and 3-pointers.
Guyer and Lake Ridge also met in the regional quarterfinals of the football playoffs, when the Eagles won a triple-overtime thriller 50-42 to advance to the 6A Region I semifinals. Sophomore Eli Stowers, a four-star Class of 2021 quarterback, is the Wildcats’ only basketball player to have played in that game and said that loss is a motivating factor this time around.
“Anytime I tell someone at school that we’re playing Lake Ridge they’re saying, 'Oh, you better get revenge,'" Stowers said. “Trust me, I know. I would say it’s a little personal. Whether it’s basketball or football, it’s still Lake Ridge.”