KHS, Sabine see tough competition in holiday tourneys

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Holiday high school basketball tournaments are pretty much all that’s happening this time of year, and boys programs at both Kilgore and Sabine are hoping the competition they’re seeing now will pay dividends later.

Kilgore played this week in the annual Wagstaff Holiday Classic at Tyler Junior College, and Sabine in Tenaha’s annual Holiday Hoops tournament. After the New Year’s Day break, they’ll both be in action Tuesday.

Kilgore: Coach Jerry Timmons’ Bulldogs had a sloppy tournament opener on Thursday morning, but bounced back on Friday, enough to make Timmons believe his team is steadily improving.

“We cut turnovers down tremendously,” the third-year coach said. “Only had 10 the whole game. We’re finally starting to catch onto some things, and being cohesive.”

Kilgore beat Arp, 53-41, on Friday morning, and the Bulldogs were to play Van this morning at 10:30. Kilgore (5-8 this season) visits All-Saints in Tyler on Tuesday at 5 p.m., starting with junior varsity and then varsity. They’ll take next Friday off, and then host Henderson in the final non-district game of the season on Tuesday, Jan. 9. After that, the District 15-4A slate starts with a trip to Chapel Hill on Jan. 12.

In the win over Arp, Deiontrae Wheat had 23 points, four rebounds, two steals, an assist and two blocks. “And no turnovers,” Timmons said, with a laugh.

Sophomore Jeremiah Haskins had 11 points. Octavian McKee had nine points, and grabbed six rebounds. Nesba Brown scored seven, and had six steals and three assists.

The Bulldogs were much better than in the Thursday morning game, a 56-46 loss to Brownsboro. McKee had 16 points and eight rebounds in that one; Haskins had 13 points. But the ‘Dogs had 21 turnovers in the first half alone.

“We trailed by five late,” Timmons said. “We were making a run at it. If we’d had 14 turnovers in that half instead of 21, we’d probably have won the game.”

Timmons said the Bulldogs will use their final pair of non-district games to tune things up, and prepare for hopefully a good run in district.

Sabine: If there was a mythical committee selecting teams for the playoffs, like things are in major college basketball, then Sabine would definitely have a high score in strength of schedule.

The Cardinals played Wednesday and Thursday in Tenaha’s Holiday Hoops tournament, an annual showcase of some of the best basketball programs not just in East Texas, but in the state.

Sabine held its own, knocking off state-ranked San Augustine, 64-51, before running into two-time defending state 1A champ Lipan and then another state-ranked team, Neches. Sabine lost those two games, but in close battles, and the Cardinals will take off the remainder of the holiday and jump right back into District 15-3A play.

Sabine (13-5 on the season) hosts Trinity School of Texas on Tuesday, then plays a key district contest at Troup on Friday. Troup is 17-2 on the season so far.

Sabine 64, San Augustine 51 (Wednesday): The Cardinals and SA were neck-and-neck until Sabine blew the doors off in the fourth quarter, outscoring SA, 22-8.

Eylan Goodwin led the way for SHS with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Will Shawn had 19 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Tray Oliver had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Hunter Grotemat had three points and three assists.

Also for Sabine, Scottie Taylor and Nathan Willis each had two, and T Taylor had three assists.

Lipan 63, Sabine 50 (Thursday): Lipan has been the top dog in UIL’s Class 1A for a while, and though Sabine managed to keep things close, Lipan’s long-distance shooting was very good. Lipan hit a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter to take a 38-37 lead, then got even hotter, distancing themselves from Sabine by knocking down the three-point shots.

Shawn led this time with 15 points, and also had eight rebounds and four assists. Oliver scored nine, and had seven rebounds. Willis had nine points and Grotemat, eight, to go with four assists. Goodwin had seven points and 10 rebounds, and T Taylor had two points and two assists.

Neches 55, Sabine 48 (Thursday): Good point guard play and perhaps having the wind knocked out of their sails a bit after losing to top-ranked Lipan, Sabine had to face another top-10 team Thursday night, and Neches lived up to billing. The Cardinals kept things close, though, and are clearly hoping facing that level of competition will help them in the district schedule.

Shawn had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Willis had seven points and five rebounds. Eylan had seven points as well, and nine rebounds. Grotemat had six points and three assists.

Oliver had four points and five rebounds. Scottie Taylor scored two, and T Taylor had had three assists.

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