Flower Mound Marcus repeats as 5A champions

AUSTIN, Texas -- Flower Mound Marcus guard Phil Forte left last season’s 5A state championship win with some unresolved business.

His 2010-11 season statistically finished well below par and was covered by the gigantic shadow of No. 12 recruit Marcus Smart.

That hunger of regret drove him to finish his senior season with a much better taste in his mouth.

Marcus’ senior big three -- Forte, Smart and Nick Banyard -- went out with a bang, taking the 5A state title for a second straight year in a 56-52 win over Fort Bend Travis on Saturday.

Forte leaves high school with no regrets, picking up the game’s MVP award with a game-high 24 points, 12 of which came from behind the arc. Forte shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 6-for-10 overall from the field.

“I wanted to get back and prove to everybody I’m a much better player than I showed last year,” Forte said.

“He did struggle last year,” Smart added, “and for him to come out and do what he did tonight, I’m just so happy for him.”

Almost as important as his long-distance performance, was his perfect, 8-for-8 shooting from the free throw line, including four at the end of the game.

“Our coaches and teammates have the most confidence in me,” Forte said. “I’ve just always loved shooting the pressure free throws. The coaches want to put the ball in my hands when there are pressure free throws on the line. My teammates did a great job of supporting, and I just stepped to the line and knocked them down.”

While Forte demonstrated his prowess on the offensive side of the court, the team showcased its traditionally strong defensive effort against Fort Bend Travis’ high-scoring twins, Andrew and Aaron Harrison.

Andrew Harrison was able to pick up 23 points on the night but was forced to earn the majority of them at the free throw line.

Marcus coach Danny Henderson said the game plan was simply to make it as hard as possible for them to score.

“It was going to take a team defensive effort, which is what our defense is anyway,” Henderson said. “My goodness, those are the two best guards we’ve ever faced. They are incredible. They’re going to be NBA players. I don’t have any doubt.”

Smart and Banyard also closed the books on their high school careers with key efforts in the win. Smart’s stat line proved his balance as an all-around player -- 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Banyard put up a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. He also stole the show with an alley-oop in the third quarter that electrified the Marcus crowd.

That trio, along with senior A.J. Luckey, put up an astounding 115-6 record over the last three years, including three trips to the 5A championship game.

To those players, those three years meant more than just wins, losses and gold medals.

“This is an incredible team,” Smart said. “We’re more than just a group of guys who wear the same jerseys. We’re actually a family, a brotherhood. We definitely stick to being one team.”