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Countdown to Tip-Off: Region III-5A Field is loaded, lining up for big weekend

HOUSTON - Four teams enter, one walks away with a ticket to the UIL State Tournament.

Welcome to the Region III-5A Tournament, which is loaded with talent and powerful teams. Here is a preview of the semifinals, set for Friday night.

Port Arthur Memorial vs Pflugerville Connally – 6 p.m. (M.O. Campbell Center)

Port Arthur Memorial heads into this weekend as the heavy-weight favorite, considering the Titans are the defending state champions.

Under first-year coach Alden Lewis, the Titans are back in the Region Tournament for the second-straight season. Port Arthur Memorial finished the regular season as the No. 8 team in Texas. The Titans won 14-straight games at one point this season and have won 17 of their last 18 contests.

On the other side, here comes Pflugerville Connally.

The Cougars are in the Regional Tournament for the first time since the 2006-2007 season, which was the last time they reached the state tournament.

Pflugerville Connally is coming off an upset victory over No. 18 College Station earlier this week. The Cougars have won eight-straight games.

Manor vs Fort Bend Hightower – 7:30 p.m. (M.O. Campbell Center)

It has been a banner year for Fort Bend Hightower basketball programs.

First the girls basketball team reached the state semifinals and now the boys are going to try and do the same thing.

Somehow this team has been able to overcome different hurdles this season, but have made it to the Regional Tournament for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.

The Hurricanes are led by freshman phenom Bryce Griggs.

Griggs, who already has an offer from Kansas, is averaging a team-best 21 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. In a one-point victory over Texas City, Griggs scored 19 points.

Expect Griggs to be a major factor in this game. Other keys for Hightower include sophomore Chris Felix, who is averaging 15.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Kevin Mcgaskey could factor in as well at 8.8 points per game.

For Manor, the Mustangs are in the same boat as Hightower as they are back in the Regional Tournament for the first time since 2011-2012 as well.

Jamal Shed leads this group of Mustangs, scoring 18.1 points per night and grabbing six rebounds per game. Augustine Arroyo is the team’s second-leading scorer with 9.9 points per game.

This should be a fun battle. Let’s see if the freshman can keep the magic alive for the Hurricanes.

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