The Goose Creek Memorial basketball team is taking things very serious as they head into tonight’s Class 5A Region 3 semifinal against Katy Paetow in Houston. The Patriots (24-3) have gone further than any other Baytown team in history and aren’t setting to end things there. (Baytown Sun photo by Alan Dale)

GCM boys continue playoff march tonight vs. Paetow

The Goose Creek Memorial Patriots basketball team is entering even deeper, unchartered waters when it steps out onto the court at M.O. Campbell Educational Center in Houston at 7 p.m. tonight.

That’s because it will mean the Patriots (24-3) will be 32 minutes of winning basketball away from being one of the eight teams left standing in pursuit of the Class 5A basketball title.

GCM, winners of a school-record 17 straight games, takes on Katy Paetow (22-1) in the Region 3 semifinals on the heels of a 79-76 overtime win over rivals Crosby in a contentious affair Saturday afternoon at the Barnett Sports Complex gymnasium.

After being a program that had never won a postseason game before, the Patriots are now the talk of Baytown and beyond as they seek a fourth straight win against another top-flight foe.

“Paetow is a very good team and they are 22-1 for a good reason,” GCM head coach Jamaal Haymon said. “They have a collection of good guards and a very good inside presence. It will be a good match-up and we both have an advantage as they have more of a true inside presence, we have a more versatile inside presence in Dariyus Woodson. 

“(GCM’s) Sam Bradford is also, a mismatch because he’s a big guard with good ballhandling skills. I think our styles of play are similar, we both can play with speed and pace.”

Paetow is here by virtue of a 42-39 win over Kingwood in the previous round and it is bolstered by the presence of 6-foot-8 junior post Charles Chuckwu, who resembles a Roman gladiator statue come to life with powerful attacks at the rim.

In order to beat Paetow, Bradford said after Saturday’s win that he felt the Patriots defense needed to improve in its effectiveness and his coach agrees.

“Defense is something that could always get better,” Haymon said. “I think we can be a little more consistent for 32 minutes. Overall, we make winning plays when it’s needed, but as teams get better, we must learn how to be more complete on both ends of the floor.”

In all three playoff wins to date, the Patriots have suffered through relatively sluggish starts and at times have seen double-digit leads threatened via a blip here and there of offensive foibles such as turnovers and quick shots.

“The offensive blips are something that we address game to game,” Haymon said. “We play fast and sometimes we get too fast and have mishaps, but overall, I’m not going to change who we are on the court. We must continue to sharpen our game as we go forward.”

Going forward all year as ended up in tonight’s Sweet 16 matchup and it is something Haymon honestly saw coming.

“I knew we had a good chance to get to the third round, but to win and against a rival to get here is something special,” Haymon said.

Where is the game? M. O. Campbell Center, 1865 Aldine Bender, FM 525, Houston, TX 77032, 35.2 miles from GCM campus

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