By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
The OrthoTexas Invitational concluded Saturday night at McKinney Boyd High School with an all-McKinney championship game, as the McKinney Boyd Broncos outlasted the McKinney Lions 71-66 to claim the tournament title in a pre-season District 10-5A matchup.
After the Lions came back against Little Elm and the Broncos blew out McKinney North in the two semifinal contests, the two district foes were set to square off 21 days before the first “real” district game was scheduled to be played.
If those two games are anything like the championship game on Saturday night, the city of McKinney is set for a fun basketball winter.
In a game that both coaches said was a “toss-up”, Boyd and MHS alternated taking the lead for most of the night. The two teams had 17 lead changes and eight ties, while the largest lead all night was held by the Broncos in the third quarter when they led 49-41.
With the Lions trailing 66-65 with 59 seconds remaining in the game, Darrin Donaldson was at the line for McKinney to shoot two free throws. Donaldson, who had made the game-winning free throw to beat Little Elm earlier in the day, made one of two attempts to tie the game at 66.
After a Bronco turnover, McKinney’s Red Shannon took the ball up the court and made an aggressive move to the basket, hoping to create a foul and go to the line. Despite a good look at the hoop, Shannon missed the layup and Boyd got the rebound and drew a foul from the Lions that would send the newest Bronco, Michael Grant, to the line for two shots.
Grant, who transferred from Frenship High School near Lubbock, has played in just four games for the Broncos. But he made both free throws to put Boyd up by two with 37 seconds remaining.
On the following possession, McKinney’s Tracy Miles got a pretty good shot off but misssed it. The Broncos rebounded the ball and Grant would go back to the line for two more shots. He made one of two attempts to put Boyd up 69-66 with 17 seconds remaining.
After a Lions timeout, sophomore guard Preston Smith was short on his three-point attempt and the Broncos rebounded the ball to essentially end the title hopes for McKinney. Boyd’s Chris Stanton would make both free throws to extend the lead to five points, where the Broncos would eventually win by.
The Broncos finished the OrthoTexas Invitational 3-0 and took home the tournament championship on their home court. Grant was named the tournament MVP after averaging 10.3 points per game over the weekend.
“What I love about the young man is that he has come in here and is a compliment to the rest of the team,” said Boyd head coach Dean Christian about Grant. “It is almost like he has been with us the whole time with how hard and smart he plays. He isn’t countering what we are trying to do and just plays good team basketball.”
Grant, who committed to play college ball at Abilene Christian University and is on the principal’s list for his achievements in academics, says he has had to adjust his game a bit to allow his team to utilize all their weapons.
“I just had to slow my game down a lot as compared to my other school, where I had pretty much free will to shoot,” said Grant. “But with this team we have so many weapons that it doesn’t matter who takes the shot.”
For Boyd, Martez Butler finished with a team-high 14 points in the game, while Faisal Mansour hit some big threes off the bench to add 12 points and Daylon Markham added 10 points of his own. Grant finished with nine points in the game.
After the game, Christian says his team relishes the opportunities to play playoff caliber basketball this early in the season.
“We have so much yet to go through and prepare for, but you believe that these types of games will make you better, regardless of whether you win or lose,” said Christian. “That was a playoff atmosphere out there and any kind of atmosphere like that for our guys is great.
“I don’t know if the gym has ever been filled like that for one of our games before with a crowd holding on to every play. That’s basketball right there. I am also happy for the community because you don’t have to leave the city to see some great basketball.”
Despite winning the tournament and starting the season off 16-2, the best start in program history, Christian says his players have one big goal they are playing for.
“We have done a lot of great things already this year, but our eyes are set on doing something this program hasn’t done yet which is make the tournament,” Christian said. “That is so important to us that it makes it hard to accept any accolades right now to heart, just because this team has had the goal to be the first team to make the tournament. That is what we are really working for.”
Grant echoed those statements following the game: “I think we can go as far as we want to go, and we want to go to state.”
For the Lions, the loss dropped their overall record to 13-5 with two non-district games remaining before District 10-5A play tips off. And despite losing to a fellow district and crosstown rival in the title game, head coach Wes Watson saw some positive things his team can take away from the game.
“I thought we played a cleaner game offensively and I don’t think we forced the ball as much as we have in past games,” said Watson. “But there were a lot of teachable moments out there that we can learn from and improve upon.”
One of the areas the Lions know they have to improve is free throw shooting, as the team missed almost 20 free throws in the loss against Boyd.
“We are not shooting the ball as well as we are capable of, but that will come around eventually,” said Watson. “We are going to get back in the gym soon and that will improve a lot.”
Connor Fuentes led the Lions with 14 points while Shannon finished with 12 points. Remington Edwards led the team with eight bench points.
Even though both coaches said the scenario of playing one another was not ideal, Watson says both he and Christian just wanted to see a good, quality basketball game between the two district foes.
“I guess you could see how they did this or that, but I think Coach Christian is the same way in that we just wanted our guys to go out tonight and compete hard, play a clean game, and execute. I thought both teams did that,” said Watson.
“There is a lot of mutual respect between our two programs and we both want success for one another. I think the city of McKinney has two good teams that can make some noise in District 10-5A this year.”
The Broncos are in action next Friday night at Hebron beginning at 7:30 p.m., while the Lions will battle Denton Ryan at home next Friday beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Little Elm 74
After being down by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, the Lions rallied back versus a quality Little Elm ball club to win on a late Darrin Donaldson free throw with one second remaining.
“I actually thought I missed it at first,” said Donaldson following the game.
The senior forward said it was his first time in a situation like that late in the game. “The pressure got ten times worse after I missed that first attempt,” he said.
The Lions tied the game at 74 with 52 second remaining after a Raynell Denny layup. After forcing a Lobo turnover with 28 seconds remaining, Red Shannon took the ball up the court and had a good look from three-point land that was just off. Fortunately for McKinney, Donaldson got the offensive rebound and earned the foul and two shots at the line.
“We just kept doing what we were doing,” said Donaldson about his team’s comeback. “We just wore them down and it kind of sparked our comeback.”
JJ Pearce 29
Frisco Centennial 40
The North Bulldogs couldn’t quite get going on either side of the ball versus the Boyd Broncos, losing by 21 to their crosstown rival. After going into halftime trailing 29-25, the Bulldogs allowed 19 third quarter points to the Broncos as they trailed by 16 entering the final quarter.
Boyd’s Faisal Mansour led all scorers with 15 points, while Michael Grant finished with 12 points of his own. For North, Julion Pearre led the charge with 12 points. All but Jola Otubu had at least one point for the Bulldogs in the losing effort.
Game 9 (7th Place):
JJ Pearce 47
Game 10 (Consolation):
Frisco Centennial 28
Game 11 (Consolation):
Little Elm 58
The Bulldogs went through a roller coaster of emotions in the final 10 seconds of the game versus the Little Elm Lobos. After trailing by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, North began making a comeback in the final eight minutes to make it a game.
Little Elm’s Devante Pullum helped the Bulldogs out by missing three of his final four free throw attempts in the game, giving North the opportunity to stay within a one shot deficit. After Pullum made a free throw to make it 56-53 Little Elm with 23 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs drew up a play to get Collin Curran the ball in the corner for a three-pointer.
Curran nailed the three with 11 seconds remaining, but the Lobos drove the ball down the court without taking a timeout. Pullum avenged his poor free throw shooting down the stretch by driving the ball into the paint and making a crazy shot for a few feet out to make it 58-56 and end the game for the Bulldogs.
Even though Curran’s three was not as big of a shot as it appeared at the moment it was, North head coach Darryll Craft says the kid is pretty special with the ball in his hands.
“It was a gigantic shot to tie it up,” said Craft. “Unfortunately it wasn’t a game winner but he is pretty special and I want the ball in his hands if we have to make a three-pointer.”
Before the tournament Craft said he viewed his team’s next real game being against Wylie next Friday night, and that he was just looking to come to the tournament and play sound basketball for two days. After leaving the OrthoTexas Invitational with a 1-2 record, Craft still is positive about the direction of the team as they get back into district play.
“When we beat Wylie last week, I said our next real game in Jan. 4. We wanted to come into this tournament and play well and go 3-0, and we got a really good win (on Friday) versus JJ Pearce. I didn’t think we played real well today versus Boyd, but that team is pretty darn good. And in the Little Elm game, it maybe was the best game we have played all year. We never quit but we just let the lead get a little too big there in the second half.”
What impressed Craft most following the loss against Little Elm was how his team responded in the locker room amongst one another.
“Instead of hearing people complaining, I hear our players saying ‘if I would have done this, we would have won’ or ‘if I would have made my layup, we would have been better here’ So hearing that kind of talk is really what this is all about. If we can get on the same page we have the chance to be pretty good,” said Craft.
The Bulldogs will take Greenville on the road next Friday night beginning at 8 p.m.
Boyd’s No. 1 JV squad won the Junior Varsity Invitational in the Boyd Auxiliary Gym.
1. Boyd 3-0
2. MHS 2-1
3. Little Elm 2-1
4. Lovejoy 2-1
5. North 1-2
6. Centennial 1-2
7. JJ Pearce 1-2
8. Rockwall 0-3