Cover Photo via @gators_bb on Twitter.
With football season over, our focus shifts to basketball for each edition of The Cooldown. This week we will recap holiday tournaments before getting into district coverage and season previews next week. Here’s who impressed over the holiday break.
1. Dickinson wins Allen In-N-Out Invitational
The Allen Invitational was a stacked field as always with several of DFW’s best, two out of state programs, and four teams from the Houston area. When the dust eventually settled Dickinson came out on top.
The Gators claimed the title by way of beating Prestonwood Christian, Little Rock Central (AR), Coppell and Allen. Houston signee Tramon Mark was named tournament MVP after posting 23 points against Allen in the tournament championship game.
The thing I noticed about Dickinson that impressed me most was the Gators don’t have a single player that can’t handle the ball well. That means it will be harder for opponents to turn them over. That balance paid off as Dickinson took down then No. 11 team in the state en route to the tournament championship.
The DFW area graduated what was likely the most comprehensively talented senior class the area has seen this decade last season. With the likes of R.J. Hampton, Tyrese Maxey and Jahmius Ramsey now gone, the DFW area is not quite as talented or as deep this season. While Duncanville stands at 12-2 and No. 1 in the state, Houston has four teams in the top 11, anyone one of which is capable of bringing home a state championship.
An undefeated run in the Allen tournament moved Dickinson up four spots to No. 2 in the state in rankings released by TABC this morning. Duncanville remains No. 1 after winning the prestigious Whataburger Tournament.
2. Atascocita impresses at Whataburger
Speaking of top teams in the state, Atascocita moved up to No. 5 in the state after winning the consolation bracket of the Whataburger Tournament. The Eagles lost their first game 61-59 to class 5A No. 5 Sulphur Springs. After that, Atascocita picked up a 61-50 win against Justin Northwest and a 71-55 win against Fort Bend Ridge Point before beating Fort Worth Wyatt 71-58 in the consolation championship.
Tom Hart and Dylan Dawson impressed for the Eagles as they pushed the pace all day against a good Ridge Point team. The first game was a slip up, but it isn’t easy to make the four-hour drive from Houston to Mansfield and get off the bus to immediately play a game against a team the caliber of Sulphur Springs. Because the tournament started the day after Christmas, the Houston area teams were given the night games on the 26th so they wouldn’t have to make the drive up on Christmas Day.
The 3-1 record at the Whataburger puts Atascocita at 17-3 heading into district play. The Eagles and Dickinson will likely be the favorites to make it to state from Region III come February, and each team played like it this weekend.
3. Morton Ranch survives tough early schedule
Head Coach Khris Turner made sure his team would be ready for the best of the best come playoff time. After a tough non-district schedule, Morton Ranch is 11-8 and No. 17 in the state. The Mavs doubled up Austin Lake Travis 76-38 in round one of the Allen Invitational before losing to Mesquite Horn, beating Ouachita Parish (LA) and losing to Beaumont United.
The tough schedule early will help better prepare the Mavs for what they’ll face come playoff time. TCU commit and Morton Ranch big man Eddie Lampkin has been out with injury and missed the entire Allen Invitational, so getting him fully healthy will be of the utmost importance come playoff time.
Morton Ranch should ultimately be fine with one of the most effortless scorers in the state in guard L.J. Cryer and Lampkin down low. Senior Wing Westley Sellers is a lockdown defender. With those three, Morton Ranch should be able to compete with just about anyone.
Last season, 6A Euless Trinity came within a win from going to state after losing 10 non-district games. The slow start from Morton Ranch shouldn’t hold them from a potentially dominate run through the state tournament, and it will be interesting to see how the Mavs fare in district play. If they can get Lampkin healthy, they will be a dangerous team.