A present for local high school basketball fans will be delivered the day after Christmas as 65 games over a three-day stretch begins Thursday with the TexasBank Holiday Classic, hosted by the Brownwood Lions and Lady Lions, at the Brownwood Coliseum and Brownwood High School.
The tournament is celebrating its third anniversary since being revived in 2017, and continues to grow both in attendance and community support — not to mention the number of teams taking part, which is up to 30 this year.
“This tournament is very important,” said Lions fourth-year head coach Nadir Dalleh. “It will bring in people from all over the state that generally wouldn’t come through Brownwood. This Holiday Classic will field the most ever teams in the tournaments history with 30 boys and girls teams. With that many teams from all over the state, the community of Brownwood will benefit from the large number of people that will walk through the doors.”
Lady Lions 11th-year head coach Heather Hohertz added, “The Holiday Classic brings the whole community together. The school and the community have to work together for the tournament to be a success. The growth of the tournament has helped the community and our local businesses.”
Boys action will be divided into two divisions — the Edwin Randle Division consists of the varsity Lions and the larger schools in the tournament, while the Charles Pattillo Division features the JV Lions along with the smaller schools.
“As a whole, the tournament will be very competitive,” Dalleh said. “Every game should be exciting and fun to watch. Our pool is going to be a tough one. Every team in there is playing well right now and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
The Lions (12-2) carry a seven-game win streak into the tournament and will compete in Pool A along with Alvarado, Levelland, and Llano. Pool B features Big Spring, Cisco, Lampasas, and Wimberley.
The girls draw features the Lady Lions and 11 other teams split into four three-team pools.
“I think the field is very competitive and is wide open for anyone to win,” Hohertz said. “I think if we can compete the way we should we should give ourselves an opportunity to win our pool.”
The Lady Lions (8-9), who have experienced their ups and downs throughout the season, tangle with Corsicana and Valley Mills in Pool A competition. Pool B features Miles, Fort Worth Nolan Catholic, and San Saba; Pool C is comprised of Coleman, Gatesville, and Justin Northwest; and Pool D is made up of Abilene Cooper, El Paso Mountain View, and Wimberley.
The JV Lions will battle Coleman, Comanche, Fort Worth Country Day, and Goldthwaite in Pool A action of the second boys division, while Pool B features De Leon, Dublin, Hermleigh, San Angelo, and San Saba.
The varsity Lions sported a 7-9 record when last year's Classic began and finished the season with a 22-11 mark, a district championship and a bi-district title. The Lions have already reached the 90-point mark twice this season, including their most recent outing — a 90-61 home win over Burnet, which knocked off Brownwood a year ago.
Heading into this year's event, Dalleh said, “We are sitting pretty well right now but need to improve in many areas to make a run in district. We are able to practice a little more than we had at the start so we are getting better every day.
“We are running the floor very well. That is what we work on every day and that’s what the kids love to do. The fast break makes it fun for the kids and people watching the games. These kids are unselfish and just want to win and they will do what it takes to do that. I think the defensive end is where we need to get better. We become lazy at certain times and you just can’t take plays off.”
The Lady Lions, meanwhile, are still striving for consistency. Brownwood has won no more than two games in a row this season, but after a four-game skid the Lady Lions had bounced back with victories in four of the last six games before falling to Abilene Wylie this past Friday. Brownwood's last outing was a microcosm of the season as the Lady Lions led 5A Wylie by a 28-15 count at halftime, but mustered just six points in the second half and fell 46-34.
“I feel that we have been very inconsistent and haven’t played to our full potential,” Hohertz said. “Our effort has to be more consistent, as well as our rebounding and lack of turnovers. We have to give ourselves a chance by not committing so many turnovers. We also have to give ourselves a chance by getting rebounds and not having to play three to four minutes of defense.”
The Classic catapulted the Lions into district competition last year, and Hohertz and the Lady Lions are hoping a similar fate awaits them this weekend.
As for what it will take for the Lady Lions to repeat as tournament champions, Hohertz said, “We have to have a consistent effort, limit our turnovers, and improve on our rebounding. We need to show that we can do those three phases well.”
The Lions, meanwhile, are looking for more of the same from what they've displayed already this season. But Dalleh insisted the team cannot rest on its laurels and must continue to improve if a tournament championship — and district championship — repeat are to come to fruition.
“The ultimate positive would be to win the whole thing,” Dalleh said. “But what I want to get out of the tournament is to be able to execute what we are wanting to do on both ends of the floor. We won’t be able to rely on the fast break every game so we are going to have to be able to stay under control and control the game where we can.
“We have to execute what our game plan is. We can get kind of out of control and we have lost some big leads this season and you simply can’t do that if you want to win a tournament. When you play a number of games in very few days, it is easy to become tired and lazy and you simply can’t do that in tournament play.”
The full tournament schedule is as follows:
TEXASBANK HOLIDAY CLASSIC
Thursday, Dec. 26 – Saturday, Dec. 28
Locations: COL – Coliseum; BHS – Warren Gym; BHS2 – Auxiliary Gym
TEAMS: Pool A — Brownwood, Corsicana, Valley Mills; Pool B — Miles, Nolan Catholic, San Saba; Pool C — Coleman, Gatesville, Justin Northwest; Pool D — Abilene Cooper, El Paso Mountain View, Wimberley
Thursday, Dec. 26
Game 1: Coleman vs. Gatesville, 9 a.m., COL
Game 4: Brownwood vs. Valley Mills, 10:20 a.m., BHS
Game 9: Gatesville vs. Northwest, 1 p.m., BHS
Game 10: San Saba vs. Miles, 1 p.m., BHS2
Game 11: Brownwood vs. Corsicana, 2:20 p.m., COL
Game 14: Nolan Catholic vs. Miles, 3:40 p.m., COL
Game 16: Valley Mills vs. Corsicana, 3:40 p.m., BHS2
Game 17: Coleman vs. Northwest, 5 p.m., COL
Game 20: Nolan Catholic vs. San Saba, 6:20 p.m., COL
Friday, Dec. 27
Game 26: Abilene Cooper vs. Mountain View, 9 a.m., BHS
Game 28: Pool B 1st vs. Pool C 1st, 10:20 a.m., BHS
Game 31: Pool B 2nd vs. Pool C 2nd 11:40 a.m., BHS
Game 33: Mountain View vs. Wimberley, 1 p.m., BHS
Game 34: Pool B 3rd vs. Pool C 3rd, 1 p.m., BHS2
Game 38: Wimberley vs. Abilene Cooper, 3:40 p.m., COL
Saturday, Dec. 28
Game 48: Pool A 2nd vs. Pool D 2nd, 9 a.m., BHS
Game 49: Pool A 3rd vs. Pool D 3rd, 9 a.m., BHS
Game 52: Pool A 1st vs. Pool D 1st, 10:20 a.m., COL
Game 54: Game 34 loser vs. Game 49 loser, 11:40 a.m., BHS
Game 57: Game 34 winner vs. Game 49 winner, 1 p.m., BHS
Game 59: Game 31 loser vs. Game 48 loser, 2:20 p.m., BHS2
Game 60: Game 28 loser vs. Game 52 loser, 2:20 p.m., BHS
Game 62: Game 31 winner vs. Game 48 winner, 3:40 p.m., BHS2
Game 64: Game 28 winner vs. Game 52 winner, 3:40 p.m., COL
EDWIN RANDLE BOYS DIVISION
TEAMS: Pool A — Brownwood, Alvarado, Levelland, Llano; Pool B — Big Spring, Cisco, Lampasas, Wimberley
Thursday, Dec. 26
Game 3: Brownwood vs. Llano, 10:20 a.m., COL
Game 6: Cisco vs. Lampasas, 11:40 a.m., BHS
Game 21: Big Spring vs. Cisco, 6:20 p.m., BHS
Game 23: Brownwood vs. Levelland, 7:40 p.m., COL
Game 24: Llano vs. Alvarado, 7:40 p.m., BHS
Friday, Dec. 27
Game 30: Levelland vs. Alvarado, 11:40 a.m., BHS
Game 35: Lampasas vs. Wimberley, 2:20 p.m., COL
Game 40: Llano vs. Levelland, 5 p.m., COL
Game 41: Big Spring vs. Wimberley, 5 p.m., BHS
Game 42: Brownwood vs. Alvarado, 6:20 p.m., COL
Game 45: Lampasas vs. Big Spring, 7:40 p.m., BHS
Saturday, Dec. 28
Game 47: Wimberley vs. Cisco, 9 a.m., COL
Game 53: Pool A 4th vs. Pool B 4th, 11:40 a.m., BHS2
Game 55: Pool A 3rd vs. Pool B 3rd, 11:40 a.m., COL
Game 58: Pool A 2nd vs. Pool B 2nd, 1 p.m., COL
Game 65: Pool A 1st vs. Pool B 1st, 5 p.m., COL
CHARLES PATTILLO BOYS DIVISION
TEAMS: Pool A — Brownwood JV, Coleman, Comanche, Fort Worth Country Day, Goldthwaite; Pool B — De Leon, Dublin, Hermleigh, San Angelo, San Saba
Thursday, Dec. 26
Game 2: Brownwood JV vs. Coleman, 9 a.m., BHS
Game 5: Goldthwaite vs. Comanche, 11:40 a.m., COL
Game 7: San Saba vs. De Leon, 11:40 a.m., BHS2
Game 8: San Angelo vs. Dublin, 1 p.m., COL
Game 12: Hermleigh vs. San Saba, 2:20 p.m., BHS
Game 13: Comanche vs. FW Country Day, 2:20 p.m., BHS
Game 15: San Angelo vs. De Leon, 3:40 p.m., BHS
Game 18: FW Country vs. Brownwood JV, 5 p.m., BHS
Game 19: Coleman vs. Goldthwaite, 5 p.m., BHS2
Game 22: Hermleigh vs. Dublin, 6:20 p.m., BHS 2
Friday, Dec. 27
Game 25: Brownwood JV vs. Comanche, 9 a.m., COL
Game 27: FW Country Day vs. Goldthwaite, 10:20 a.m., COL
Game 29: San Angelo vs. Hermleigh, 11:40 a.m., COL
Game 32: De Leon vs. Dublin, 1 p.m., COL
Game 36: Brownwood JV vs. Goldthwaite, 2:20 p.m., BHS
Game 37: Coleman vs. Comanche, 2:20 p.m., BHS2
Game 39: Dublin vs. San Saba, 3:40 p.m., BHS
Game 43: FW Country Day vs. Coleman, 6:20 p.m., BHS2
Game 44: San Saba vs. San Angelo, 6:20 p.m., BHS2
Game 46: De Leon vs. Hermleigh, 7:40 p.m., COL
Saturday, Dec. 28
Game 50: Pool A 5th vs. Pool B 5th, 9 a.m., BHS2
Game 51: Pool A 3rd vs. Pool B 3rd, 10:20 a.m., BHS
Game 56: Pool A 4th vs. Pool B 4th, 1 p.m., BHS
Game 61: Pool A 1st vs. Pool B 1st, 2:20 p.m., COL
Game 63: Pool A 2nd vs. Pool A 2nd, 3:40 p.m., BHS