by JASON GORDON
One of the best basketball tournaments in Central Texas will open play on Thursday.
The Rebel Classic will host a total of 30 boys and girls team, some local, and some coming from as far away as Jewett, Argyle, Lucas and Palestine.
“We get a lot of local teams that love to come here year after year because the tournament is always very well run,” said Hays girls head basketball coach Danny Preuss. “We had a few other openings this year and people were flocking to come to it. We have four teams coming from more than 200 miles away, and that’s great for the tournament. We get to see teams we’ve never seen before and I’m sure they feel the same way. Seeing different styles really helps your basketball team.”
Both the Hays High and Lehman High girls basketball teams will be one of the 16 girls teams playing in the Rebel Classic, which runs through Saturday.
The girls tournament will be in traditional bracket style, with each team guaranteed four games.
Hays will open play against Palestine at 3 p.m. on Thursday in Bales Gym. The Lady Rebs will then play either the winner or loser of the Wimberley versus Jewett-Leon matchup on Friday at 10:30 a.m. in either Bales or the Graham Gym.
Lehman opens play Thursday against Hendrickson in Hays’ Red Gym at 10:30 a.m. The Lady Lobos will next either play New Braunfels High or San Antonio Churchill. If Lehman wins its opening-round matchup, it will play in the second round in Bales Gym on Thursday at 6 p.m. If the Lady Lobos lose against Hendrickson, they will play in the second round at the Red Gym at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Preuss said he thinks the favorites in the girls tournament will be Churchill and Vista Ridge, which are both state ranked, with Poth and Steele as dark horses. In all, 13 of the 16 teams in the girls tournament made the playoffs last year.
“There’s no question whoever wins this tournament will have played some very solid basketball over three days,” Preuss said.
As for the Lady Rebels’ chances, Preuss said he likes the fact Hays got hot at the Rebel Classic last season en route to a second-place finish in District 27-4A.
“Last year, we knocked off Churchill to get to the semifinals, and that gave us a lot of confidence heading into district,” Preuss said. “We’re starting to play better. The way we’re playing from our very first game of the season to our last game is like night and day. If we can hit our shots and continue to play good defense I think we have a chance to do well.”
The Hays boys will play two games in the Rebel Classic on Thursday, beginning with St. Michael’s at 12:30 p.m. and finishing with Crockett at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be at Bales Gym.
The boys 14-team tournament will be in pool play style with each team guaranteed four games.
Hays head coach Dean McMullen said Hutto, McNeil and Harker Heights should be the favorites coming in, but he gives his Rebels a shot to take the title.
“We’d love to win it,” McMullen said. “I truly believe if we play like we’re capable of we can beat anybody.”
Hays guard Caleb Kimbro also thinks the Rebs will play well in the Classic.
“We want to come out strong in our own tournament,” Kimbro said. “There are a lot of good teams here and we expect to play well.”
The girls championship game is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Bales Gym on Saturday. The boys championship game will follow immediately afterward on the same court.