The Madisonville men’s basketball program hosted seven schools from Thursday to Saturday in two gyms at MHS for the Madisonville Holiday Invitational as they prepare for district play.
Participating in the tournament were the Mustangs, Cleveland, Anderson-Shiro, Caldwell, Navasota, Brenham, Franklin and Hempstead. Hempstead defeated Cleveland for the championship on Saturday by a score of 68-50.
Before bracket play was established on Friday afternoon, all of the eight teams played three times on Thursday and Friday morning and were aligned based on their records in pool play. With a consolation bracket, each team played at least five games over the weekend.
“This has been an awesome experience,” said Madisonville basketball Coach Chris Reid, who led a tireless effort to coordinate the tournament. “The community and school district personnel have been very supportive. We got food donated from several local restaurants, a handful of our coaches pitched in as well as security. All of the coaches from our visiting teams expressed to me that they enjoyed it and plan to come back.”
The field was comprised of a number of competitive teams from different levels and the Mustangs finished their weekend 1-4. They defeated Anderson-Shiro and fell to Caldwell and Cleveland in pool play then fell to Navasota and Brenham by a combined five points in two tightly contested bracket matchups.
“I love tournaments because they give us a chance to experience a playoff-like atmosphere,” said Reid. “You see quality teams and then you are put in a bracket for a win or go home situation to test your poise and resilience. Aside from the wins and losses, I think we grew up some as a team and got better.”
On Thursday, the Mustangs got off to a hot start early in the first quarter against Caldwell, who had trouble scoring early. But the Hornets were able to pick up the slack near the end of the first and finish on a 14-4 run to build a 17-13 lead. They would close the half on a 20-4 run to take a commanding lead at the break.
Trailing by 15 points entering the fourth quarter, Madisonville turned on the gas to give the Hornets a memorable finish. The Mustangs got within three points in the final minute, but no closer. Caldwell picked up a 67-63 victory.
In game two against Cleveland, the Mustangs could not seem to put the ball in the basket early and fell behind fast. The Indians held a 16-3 advantage after the first quarter and built a 37-12 lead by halftime.
Madisonville could not push their way back into the game against Cleveland, who went on to win 63-30. The Indians were a perfect 3-0 in pool play and would eventually advance to the tournament’s championship.
In the final matchup of pool play on Friday morning, neither Anderson-Shiro or the Mustangs were able to find the basket early in the first. However, Madisonville would heat up for the remainder of the half to build a 38-25 lead at the break.
In their most complete performance and lone win of the tournament, the Mustangs swiftly eliminated any hopes of a comeback by the Owls. They would conclude pool play 1-2 with a 62-46 win.
When bracket play began later on Friday, Madisonville seemed to pick up where they left off and were able to build a 19-11 lead over Navasota after the first quarter of play. However, the Rattlers would work their way back to a tie by halftime and gradually surpassed the Mustangs in the second half to hold on for a 52-49 victory.
Madisonville had trouble finishing once again as they concluded their weekend with a consolation matchup against Brenham. They trailed by nine at the half, but used a huge third quarter to jump out to a 7-point lead. The Cubs then fought their way back to a slim lead in the final minutes. Trailing by two points late, Tyrese Brown attempted a three-pointer that would have given his team the lead. The attempt, however, rimmed out and Brenham won 54-52.
The Mustangs will now compete in three more games before the beginning of district play on Jan. 11. While the young team’s record is not favorable, Coach Reid is pleased with their progress against a tough slate of opponents so far this season.
“Our whole pre-district schedule has been really challenging,” said Reid. “We have not played any weak teams. Everyone we have played will be a potential playoff team if not a district champion in their respective leagues. We have played a few state ranked opponents as well so I feel that we will be ready to compete when we get to those district games and we will be battle tested.”
The Mustangs traveled to Caldwell on Monday to face the Hornets again and will return home to host Salado at MHS on Friday at 6:15 p.m.