The Battle for No. 1 in District 18-6A

It isn’t a mere coincidence that Kendric Davis of Sam Houston High School wears No. 1 on his jersey – as does District 18-6A counterpart Maxwell Evans of Bellaire High.

They’re among the best high school basketball players on two of the top boys’ teams in the greater Houston area and throughout Texas.

Sam Houston is ranked No. 3 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) Class 6A state poll while Bellaire is No. 19.

Davis earned all-state honors as a sophomore last season while his team advanced to the state semifinals. Evans has already committed to Vanderbilt.

The teams met for the second time last Friday at Butler Fieldhouse. Sam Houston won the first meeting 68-63 in overtime to claim the recent HISD boys’ basketball tournament for the third consecutive year.

Bellaire was hoping to exact revenge in the second meeting while gaining an upper hand in district play.

Evans had a clean look at a potential game-tying three-point shot at the buzzer that bounced off the rim as Sam Houston prevailed 61-58 in a wildly entertaining rematch.

In their personal duel, Evans scored a game-high 28 points while Davis led the 23-1 Tigers with 25. Sam Houston and Bellaire finished 1-2 in the district standings a year ago.

“This was a struggle all night. I was impressed with the way we competed,” said Sam Houston head coach Ralph Barreras. “They (Bellaire) came out with a big effort despite missing one of their bigs. We were fortunate to come out with a win because we didn’t play particularly well.

“It’s like starting all over again when you come back following a holiday layoff,” Barreras said. “But the kids were well conditioned and it’s just a matter of time before we start playing better together and trusting each other a little bit more.

“This win gives us a leg up and a chance to jell before we play our next big game,” Barreras said. “If we want to win the district title, the road goes through Bellaire and Lamar.”

Sam Houston plays Bellaire again Jan. 31 at the Pavilion with 7:30 p.m. tipoff.