This is a big weekend for Salado boys and girls basketball.
Several schools from all over Texas will invade Salado this week starting on Thursday for the annual Coach Smith Tournament.
Twenty teams will be in town for the 15th edition of the event honoring “Coach” U.G. Smith.
For the boys, it’s a time for the team to come together and face some elite competition.
“We are bringing into Salado some really good teams this week,” said Salado boys head coach Kenny Mann. “I just want my team to compete and get better from this tournament.”
The Eagles are early into their 2016-2017 campaign and Mann likes what he has seen from his team so far.
“We have really got a team full of hard-working guys who have a great attitude,” Mann said.
“Most of the guys on the team played football, so we are just getting started on the year, but I am already seeing these guys working hard on the court.”
At 2-1 on the season, including a win over Rosebud-Lott and an overtime win against Rogers on Tuesday, Mann admits that he has gotten great minutes already from players such as Trevor Stump, Willy Whigham and Evan Wall.
“Trevor is one of our seniors on the team and has elevated his play around the basket tremendously, “Mann said. “He’s one of our leaders on the team. Last year we asked Willy to do a lot as a sophomore, and this year he has really taken off. I think Evan is one of our best shooters on the team,” Mann said. “I think he will have a big year this year.”
The Eagles will also count on players such as Ryan Kyburz, Quade Brown, Jake Pittman and Jeremy Jarvis throughout the season to give them valuable minutes.
Lago Vista, Austin Travis, Pilot Point, 2A-No. 18 Thorndale, 3A-No. 23 Jarrell and others will all be in the tournament as well.
Mann and the Eagles will open the Coach Smith Tournament facing Central Texas Christian on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.
Despite its record, girls head coach Diane Konarik knows that her team has faced some elite competition early in the season and hopes her team learns something by facing some of the best.
“We have had a tough schedule early on,” Konarik said. “We have already faced a few 5A’s in tournaments and I can see that my team has a ton of fight.”
On the girls side of the bracket, tradition-rich programs such as West, Robinson and Hutto will all be potential competition this week for the Lady Eagles.
“One of my assistants asked me as to why I was bringing these tough teams into town and I told her that we have to get better. I have a belief that you get better by facing really good teams,” Konarik said.
Konarik knows that she will know a lot more about her team once the weekend is over, but admits that she can already see the hard work.
“I just want my girls to do our best and get better every game,” Konarik said.
With five returners from last year, Konarik has seen a lot of toughness from several players, including seniors Kerrigan Hearne, Taylor Lowrance, Sarah Kate Kelarek and sophomore Lexie Lima.
The Lady Eagles hope to carry momentum from Tuesday night’s win over Holland into the tournament against Thorndale at 2 p.m. Thursday.
GYM 1 BOYS
12:30 p.m. Salado vs. Central Texas Christian
3:30 p.m. McGregor vs. Paradise
6:30 p.m. Thorndale vs. Caldwell
8 p.m. 12:30 losers
GYM 2 BOYS
12:30 p.m. Bruceville-Eddy vs. Lago Vista
3:30 p.m. Austin Travis vs. Pilot Point
6:30 p.m. Jarrell vs. Leander Glenn
8 p.m. 3:30 losers
GYM 1 GIRLS
2 p.m. Salado vs. Thorndale
5 p.m. West vs. Austin Travis
GYM 2 GIRLS
2 p.m. Robinson vs. McGregor
5 p.m. Cameron Yoe vs. Hutto