Wisdom Hoops is On the Rise

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Wisdom Chronicle

The Wisdom Varsity Basketball Players

Mohammed Tamimie, Reporter

Lady Generals Make the Playoffs; Boys Squad Trending Upward

For just the second time in Wisdom high school history, the Lady Generals basketball team has qualified for the UIL 5A playoffs. Coach Jennisha Thomas’ squad has gone 8-5 so far through 13 games in District 23-5A, with one final regular season game remaining – this Friday Feb. 11 vs Northside.

“We’ve never beaten Northside since I’ve been coaching here,” said Thomas. “So we’d like to cap off a great season and get this one. We want it really bad.”
With a talented and young roster, Thomas is hopeful that this is the team that can turn things around.
No matter the outcome Friday, the Lady Generals will be advancing to the playoffs, having already secured a top-4 finish in district. They will await their fate on a time and location for a post-season matchup, after seeing what happens Friday.
Leading the way for Wisdom, is “do-everything” athlete Jariya Lee – a sophomore who moved to Houston from Madison, Illinois and is in her first year playing for the Lady Generals.
“I actually like to play volleyball more than basketball, but I just love to be out there competing,” said Lee, who is averaging 10 points, eight steals, five rebounds and four assists per game.
Other members of the starting five include senior Lesly Zelaya, junior Nishanti Wilson, sophomore Aimee Valentine and freshman Amiyah Yates.

Zelaya drives through the middle and takes a jump shot (Jesica Gonzalez)

It has been even longer since the Wisdom Boys Varsity Basketball Team has made an impact in District 23-5A. So long in fact, most administrators here can’t recall the last time the team even talked about contending for the playoffs.
But, that is indeed what is happening now on the hardwood floors of our new gym, for the first time since this school was rebuilt in 2018.
Head Coach Jaqueta Dunn has seen the lean years and that allows her to appreciate even more the effort her squad has put in this year, to actually win some very competitive district games.
A huge addition to the team this year has been junior power forward Jose Meléndez, who arrived at our school after moving to Houston from Puerto Rico. Melendez has been playing basketball for seven years prior coming to Houston, and brings a skill set and mentality to the team that was desperately needed.
“Our offense is pretty much centered around Jose and trying to get him the ball down low in the paint,” said guard Julian Cabrera. “When we need a big basket, he’s the guy we are looking to score it.”

Melendez (left) and Lili (right) (Wisdom Chronicle )

Another key component is the play of senior Luji Lili, the starting shooting guard. Lili has had a basketball in his hands since he was a little kid. “It has been so much fun to run out there with this group of guys,” said Lili. “Everybody is starting to see that we can win some games, so that has just fueled our fire even more.”

Lili skies to the basket for a layup (Jesica Gonzalez)

With the players making connections and forming relationships, the Generals have been able to build on the season and are understanding the flow of the game much better to boost their performances. Melendez says they are getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. “The defense started off slow, but is starting to improve,” said the Puerto Rico native. “Coach Dunn has been focusing on it in practice, and it has started to pay off.”