by JASON GORDON
The Rebel Classic started out almost perfectly for both the Hays High boys and girls basketball teams.
Both coasted to fairly easy victories in their first two games of the tourney.
Unfortunately for both teams, the rest of the tournament didn’t go as smoothly.
Still, both the Hays High boys and girls advanced to the tournament’s semifinals and ultimately finished in fourth place.
San Antonio Churchill beat Lucas Lovejoy in the finals to win the girls title, and McNeil defeated Lanier to win the boys Rebel Classic crown. A total of 30 boys and girls teams competed in the tournament.
“It was a great tournament,” Hays High head coach Danny Preuss said. “We played well but had a game in the semifinals where our shots just weren’t falling, but overall we had a lot of compliments from other coaches who definitely want to come back next year. The competition level was high on both the boys and girls side.”
Hays High boys coach Dean McMullen agreed.
“I’m already getting calls from schools that want to come back,” McMullen said. “It’s always a very well run tournament and this year was no exception.”
On Thursday, the Hays boys pulled away from St. Michael’s in the second quarter and cruised to a 71-41 win behind 14 points from Hayden Cagle, 13 from Caleb Kimbro, 10 from Trey Johnson and eight points from Isaiah Williams.
Later that evening against Crockett, two monster slam dunks from Cagle and two Johnson three-pointers in the first quarter sparked the Rebels to a 64-45 victory. Cagle led Hays with 15 points, while Williams and Kimbro added 12 each.
In the tournament semifinals, Hays lost 48-39 to Lanier on Friday night, and then the Rebels closed out their tournament with a 74-62 loss to San Marcos.
Cagle didn’t play against Lanier and played sparingly against San Marcos while nursing a minor injury.
“We have a lot of good players on this team, and we are making good plays as individuals, but we still have to learn how to execute as a team,” McMullen said. “I’m very pleased with where we’re at right now and I think we’ll be in good shape once district begins at the end of the month.”
Kimbro and Hays post Travis Miller were named all-tournament.
“We played pretty well on Thursday but after that we didn’t seem to start out as strong,” Kimbro said. “We are still hoping to use the wins as momentum going into district to make a playoff run.”
The Hays High girls trailed Palestine 13-8 after one quarter of play Thursday but then outscored the Ladycats 45-18 the rest of the way to post a 53-31 victory. Nicole Alcantara led the Lady Rebs with 16 points.
Friday against Jewett Leon, Hays jumped out to a 25-10 lead after the first quarter and went on to a 53-39 win behind Lindsey McCurdy’s 15 points, 10 from Alcantara and nine points from Rachel Calabrese.
“Against Leon, that was our best first quarter all year,” Hays head coach Danny Preuss said. “We kind of went on cruise control from there.”
Hays battled tough against eventual tournament runner-up Lovejoy, but fell 37-31 in the semifinals.
That left Hays in a battle with Vista Ridge, the fourth-ranked team in the state in Class 4A, for third place.
The Lady Rebels trailed 30-15 at halftime, but rallied back before falling 53-40.
Alcantara led a well-balanced Hays scoring attack with 13 points. McCurdy had nine points, and Jennifer Colonnetta and Jill Borreson had six points apiece for Hays.
The Lady Rebels held Vista Ridge’s 6-foot, 2-inch All-State post Chinwe Duru to only 12 points.
“I think that’s the best game we’ve played all year,” Preuss said. “We came up with a new defensive strategy to stop Vista Ridge’s best player that morning and we worked it to perfection. We outscored them in the second half and if we hit more than four of our 13 free throws we’re right there at the end of the game. If we play like we did against Vista Ridge every night we’re going to win a lot of ballgames this season.”
McCurdy was named All-Tournament for Hays.
“We played well against some very athletic teams,” McCurdy said. “Vista Ridge was a very solid team but we were able to stay in the game and we played them really tough. I think we are a team that has gotten a lot better since the beginning of the year. We’re still pretty young, but a lot of us are getting used to the speed of the varsity game. I think we have a good chance to compete for the district title this season.”
After an 0-3 start to the Rebel Classic for the Lehman girls, including a heartbreaking 49-48 loss to Class 2A power Poth, the Lady Lobos romped to an easy 64-36 win over Highlands on Saturday.
Amara Smith led the Lady Lobos with 21 points, while Cydney Ervin and Oliva Marzullo had 15 points apiece for Lehman.