TEXAS INVITATIONAL: Stage Set for Duncanville Girls Dynasty, Top High School Talent

TEXAS INVITATIONAL: Stage Set for Duncanville Girls Dynasty, Top High School Talent
Posted on 11/21/2013
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Featured standouts of the 2013 McDonald's Texas Invitational: Duncanville guard Tasia Foman; Fort Bend Bush guard Kelly Oubre; Manvel post Briana Turner; DeSoto guard Julian Green.

panelA few things have changed around Phillips Field House since last year’s McDonald’s Texas Invitational Basketball Tournament. But don’t tell it to the Duncanville girls basketball team. The Pantherettes don’t intend to be one of them.

The Duncanville girls bring back-to-back championships and a 10-game Texas Invitational winning streak into this year’s three-day, 80-team basketball extravaganza, which begins Thursday at 10 venues across the Pasadena and Deer Park school districts.

Phillips Field House, the site of the boys and girls Division 1 Gold championship games on Saturday, is still drying paint from an off-season makeover. Basketball teams, too, undergo facelifts, almost annually. But lately the Duncanville girls seem to be the exception.

Led by guard Tasia Foman and forward Ariel Akins, both University of Texas-bound seniors, the Pantherettes haven’t let an opponent come closer than seven points in their past 10 Texas Invitational games. The average margin of a Duncanville victory over that span has been 27.1 points.

Last year the Pantherettes dispatched a pair of tournament opponents by margins of 55 and 69 points. Four months later Coach Cathy Self-Morgan’s team won the Texas Class 5A championship, cruising through the semifinals and finals by margins of 24 and 23 points.

That doesn’t mean this year’s girls bracket won’t be competitive. The girls side features six teams ranked in the top 16 statewide by Texas Basketball Magazine. That list includes Manvel, one of the Pasadena school’s District 22-5A rivals, and Clear Springs, the only team to give Duncanville an ounce of concern at the Texas Invitational the past two years.

Clear Springs lost to the Pantherettes by seven points in the 2011 title game, the only thing that Duncanville can claim as a close call in Texas Invitational play over that span. Still, when the two teams met last spring in the state semifinals, Duncanville won by 24.

Clear Springs is led by senior guard Brooke McCarty, who will join Foman and Akins at Texas next year.

The boys field promises more balance with 11 teams ranked in Texas Basketball Magazine’s top 24. In addition, no boys team has repeated as Texas Invitational champion since the field was expanded to 48 teams in 2007.

The Duncanville boys are back to defend their 2012 crown, but the favorite this time may be the 2010 champ, DeSoto. The Eagles feature a veteran lineup that includes Julian Green, Terry Matson and Devin Wyatt. Matson has agreed to play for Baylor next year and Wyatt for Loyola-Marymount.

Still, the best player on the boys side is probably Fort Bend Bush senior Kelly Oubre, a 6-foot-7 guard who plans to play for Kansas. Oubre averaged 22.4 points last season.

The DeSoto boys open against Mansfield Summit at the Memorial High School gym on Thursday at 3 p.m. Fort Bend Bush opens against Langham Creek at the South Houston High gym at 10:30 a.m.

The Duncanville girls set sail on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. against San Antonio Madison at Deer Park High’s Auxiliary Gym.

The Girls Division 1 Gold championship game is set for Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Phillips. The Boys Division 1 Gold title game will be played at 8 p.m. at Phillips.

In between, at 6 p.m., an Alumni Challenge game will be held featuring alumni squads from Pasadena ISD schools and Deer Park High School. Former Deer Park Coach Ray Landers and former Pasadena High Coach Phil Eaton will coach the squads, which consist of 22 players each and covering a graduation span from 1958 to 2010.

The tournament, regarded as perhaps the best pre-season high school tournament in the nation, will retain the same format this year.

*On the boys side, 48 teams from across Texas have been divided into two 24-team divisions. Each division has been divided into eight three-team pools. After two pool-play games on Thursday, the teams are divided by record into Gold, Silver and Bronze brackets, each bracket working toward a champion in bracket play on Friday and Saturday.

*On the girls side, 32 teams are divided into two 16-team divisions, and each division is divided into four four-team pools. Three pool games are held Thursday and Friday. After pool play, teams are placed, according to record, into Gold, Silver and Bronze brackets. All bracket games are held on Saturday.

All boys and girls teams from all five Pasadena ISD high schools will compete in Division 2, as do Deer Park’s boys and girls teams.

All the Pasadena and Deer Park boys teams will play in their home gyms for two pool play games on Thursday. With only a couple of exceptions, Pasadena ISD and Deer Park girls teams will host all three of their pool play games.

Because of a scheduling conflict, the Boys Division 1 Gold title game will not be televised live by Fox College Sports cable this year. However, both the Division 1 Gold title games for boys and girls will be streamed live over the internet by FoxSportsSouthwest.com.

All other games played at Phillips Field House on Saturday will be streamed live by the Legacy Sports Network. Legacy will also stream all games played at Memorial High School on Thursday and Friday.

The tournament is sponsored by the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Pasadena ISD Education Foundation and the Deer Park ISD Education Foundation. All proceeds are returned to those two education foundations.

Since 2003, the tournament has provided more than $1 million to the Pasadena ISD Education Foundation.

The tournament utilizes the efforts of more than 400 volunteers from Pasadena and Deer Park.