Royce Huesman has been at the helm for the Kingwood Mustangs basketball program since 1984. He’s seen it all and experienced it all. In 2005 he and his team reached the pinnacle winning the UIL-5A State Title which was the beginning of three straight state finals appearances. This season, Kingwood faces some tough obstacles in a tough district. With a mixture of veterans and young players, the Mustangs will try to put the right combinations together to make a run in the new district 16-6A.
The Kingwood Mustangs just hosted The Insperity Holiday Classic basketball tournament at Kingwood High School. The Mustangs played well in the first game even having a double digit lead at one point but ultimately fell to Lamar: 67-62. They rebounded nicely in the second game defeating Cy Falls, 42-32, and took Madison to overtime in their third game before falling short in that one as well. Even going into the tournament Coach Huesman knew it was going to be tough: “It’s a very solid tournament up and down,” he mentioned before the tournament.
Kingwood has had a tough beginning schedule playing teams like Judson, who at the time was ranked 4th in the state. They managed to take them into overtime but couldn’t hold on, losing 62-58 in OT. They were able to defeat a top 25 team in the state, Rockwall, 61-55 as both of those games were held at the McDonald’s Texas Invitational tournament in Pasadena, TX. “The teams that we’re playing are just brutal,” Coach Huesman said referring to the hard schedule they’ve faced thus far. “Every game is a learning experience.” They also played in the Katy Nike Classic hosted by Seven Lakes. They went 3-2 overall defeating Worthing, Morton Ranch, and Brazoswood. They played well against Seven Lakes but Fabion White fouled out and down the stretch and Kingwood couldn’t hold on losing a close one 76-73.
Coach Huesman mentioned that they have some young kids on the roster and they’re learning how to step up and make an impact defensively, which is something Kingwood basketball strives for. “We’ve got to be sound and if we’re not with the athletes we have, the other team will take over,” Coach Huesman stated. Kingwood returns 7 players from last year’s squad and 3 of those players are starters. On paper it looks good for them but throwing new and younger players into the mix is a transition for any team. “Sometimes you mix in some kids and they have to fit in and do the things that it takes to win. The young kids have to learn fast,” Coach Huesman said.
Last season Kingwood finished 3rd in the district. With Atascocita playing as well as they were last season, it wasn’t a bad place to be in. In a game played against Klein early in district play, Kingwood started off slow and fell behind quickly. They ended up making a big comeback and eventually won in overtime. There was a big shot by the Mustangs Mitchell Clouse that tied the game at the buzzer and sent the game into overtime. “It really changed our season,” Coach Huesman admitted, “We ended up going like 8-1 the rest of the year and it really turned us around. That shot set the tone for the rest of the year.”
When Kingwood entered the playoffs last season they were on a roll. Unfortunately, a couple of the players got sick… “It really just killed us,” Coach Huesman confessed. Thus, Kingwood went into the game shorthanded and stayed tough throughout the match but the shortage of players proved to be too much to overcome as they fell to College Park, 43-37.
Realistically going into district, Atascocita is the clear favorite to win district. In Coach Huesman’s eyes, there is no clear cut favorite to capture 2nd place and beyond, which leaves everything else up for grabs. Guys like Matt Mulloy, who led the team in FG % and Matt Gresko, the leading scorer, are expected to lead the charge in district play. Other guys such as Mitchell Clouse and Fabian White are also going to be looked at as scoring options.
Coach Huesman has had no shortage of influences including Rick Shirley (TABC President), Phil Eaton (Humble HS), and Bill Krueger (Clear Lake HS) whom has 1,200 career coaching wins. “In my early days of coaching that’s who I watched and listened to,” Coach Huesman said referring to all these men. He attended and played basketball at Waylon Baptist before transferring to West Texas State, now West Texas A&M. In high school he went to Nazareth HS in Nazareth, TX near the panhandle, a school known for consistently appearing in the state tournament and its many state titles.
Written by Mark M. Johnson