District 8-5A play doesn’t get underway until Tuesday, but for the Shoemaker Grey Wolves and Ellison Eagles, this weekend gave them a bit of a district preview. 

A tournament like the Pflugerville Panther Holiday Classic gives basketball players and coaches a preview of other district teams.

“I pay hard attention to them,” Ellison shooting guard Shannon Bogues said. “Eventually we’re going to have to play them because they’re in our district.”

During Ellison’s Friday game against Pflugerville Hendrickson, the Shoemaker Grey Wolves sat in the stands, enjoyed some lunch and watched as Malik Malone led the Eagles to a 68-58 pool play win.

Teams in the same districts inevitably run into each other during tournament play and although they might not meet head to head, for coaches, sitting in the stands and watching is a valuable scouting opportunity. 

“You’re always a student of the game and you learn stuff from everybody,” Shoemaker coach Emund Prichett said.

In the age of digital music players and phones that can access the Internet and play games, players still find it valuable to watch games and scout opponents.

Even if they grew up playing with and against each other.

For Shoemaker’s Shane Johnson, two days playing and watching basketball is a great way to spend a December afternoon.

“It’s always a blessing to play the game that you love and not be in school,” Johnson joked.

For Shoemaker, the tournament’s opening night loss to eventual champion and host Pflugerville gave the team a bit of a needed wake-up call and the Grey Wolves responded.

They beat Waco Midway, Corpus Christi Carroll and Pflugerville Hendrickson by a combined 48 points.

Shoemaker finished third in the tournament as Johnson landed on the all-tournament team.

Ellison lost to Pflugerville in the tournament’s championship game, but had the final two possessions and opportunities to win or tie in a 62-60 loss.

For Jones, playing the Panthers on their home floor with a strong blue and yellow clad home crowd is something they can build on before the start of district play.

“I think this helped their confidence more than hurt it,” Ellison coach Alberto Jones said.

Malone and Ronnie Edwards made it onto the all-tournament team for Ellison.

Contact Albert Alvarado at alvarado@kdhnews.com

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