Written by Corbett Smith
HS basketball notebook: Late-arriving football players rounding into shape for hoops season, district play
November and December can be trying months for basketball coaches waiting to transition football players back into the fold.
Two-sport players whose teams make the football playoffs can miss up to six weeks of games, in addition to six weeks of practice that started in October. For example, Lancaster football stars Demarcus Ayers and Daeshon Hall didn’t rejoin the basketball team until the start of the Dallas ISD/Coca-Cola Invitational last week, since their football team made a run to the Class 4A Division II state final.
That’s why holiday tournaments are so important for some programs. They give teams several games over a short span to work their rosters into shape before district play.
“It’s very difficult, especially when you change the system and they don’t have time to understand it,” Little Elm coach Rusty Segler said. “And you have to get them into basketball shape.”
Four of Segler’s 10 players — Devante’ Pullum, Cardell Best, Kaleb Chapman and Shaun Grant — weren’t on the roster for the first weeks of the season after the football team made the 4A playoffs.
Little Elm (13-5) is finding its stride with the influx of football talent, taking third place in the OrthoTexas Invitational at McKinney Boyd.
Lincoln (13-6), behind quarterback/point guard Erick Neal, made the DISD final, losing to South Grand Prairie. Mesquite (12-8) started 0-3 but made last week’s Plano Wildcat Holiday Classic final behind football players Rashard Higgins and Alex Cooper.
Plano West moving on after Duncanville: The Sandra Meadows Classic provided ups and downs for the Plano West girls last week.
The state’s third-ranked 5A team played the toughest schedule at the tournament, defeating Beaumont Ozen (No. 4 in the 4A state poll), League City Clear Springs (No. 4 in 5A) and DeSoto (No. 9 in 5A) before losing to No. 1 Duncanville in the final.
Duncanville won in a rout in the championship, 64-32, and relegated West to tournament runner-up for a second year in a row. It was the second meeting between the two state powers this year, and West lost by only six points on Dec. 1.
“Duncanville has a toughness with their team,” Plano West coach Don Patterson said. “They don’t back down. We need to be aware of that.”
Plano West (24-2) showed some toughness of a different kind in the quarterfinals a day earlier, beating Clear Springs in five overtimes, 107-105.
Marquee matchups: A pair of prominent girls games highlights the return of district action this week.
Highland Park will host West Mesquite in an important District 10-4A showdown at 7 p.m. Thursday. Highland Park (15-5) is No. 3 in SportsDay’s area 4A rankings, and West Mesquite (17-6) is No. 4.
Highland Park (15-5) took fourth place at the Dallas ISD/Coca Cola Invitational after a 54-42 loss to Irving MacArthur, and West Mesquite won the consolation final against Wilmer-Hutchins.
In 7-5A, Mansfield Timberview (21-3) will host DeSoto (21-4) at 6 p.m. Friday. No. 5 DeSoto took third at the Sandra Meadows Classic last week, and No. 4 Timberview was the runner-up at the Mansfield Rotary Invitational.
Staff writer David Just contributed to this report.