1) Kerens boys need a spark
The Kerens Bobcats used last year’s Kiwanis Classic as a springboard to a UIL Boys State Basketball Tournament appearance, reaching the state semifinals. This season hasn’t started out in a way that suggests the Bobcats will be back. Kerens has a so-so 6-5 record. But don’t jump to conclusions just yet. Kerens, still ranked 11th in the state, has several key players back, including Golden Circle Player of the Year, Tobyus Thomas, who is off to a great start this season.
2) Frost girls are on rise
The Kerens girls are still the prohibitive favorite, but don’t be surprised to see the Frost girls end the LadyCats’ run at some point in the next four years. The Lady Polar Bears have several solid veteran players like Kadee Bowling and Dakota Lassetter plus an influx of young talent in freshmen Jae Moore, Jasmyn Steels, Madison Revill, Kaycee Bowling and Morgan Elmore. The Lady Polar Bears are off to a 15-1 start and are currently ranked No. 10 in the latest TABC Girls Class 1A DII rankings.
3) Shimonek will have new look
The Daily Sun ran into Mildred’s Nic Shimonek on Christmas Day. The blonde locks that were a staple of every Eagles football player during their state finals’ run are gone. So Shimonek will have his old basketball look. That’s not good news for Mildred opponents as Shimonek and Rice’s Dalton Pike are probably the two best outside shooters in the Kiwanis Classic. Mildred opens up the tournament at 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning against the Dawson Bulldogs.
4) Lady Jags, the sleeper
The Hubbard girls are a talented group as they hit the big stage at the Kiwanis Classic. They easily could be ranked — the Lady Jags under new coach Butch Olson are off to a red hot 13-3 start. Only Frost at 15-1 and Kerens at 12-2 have gotten off to better starts among Golden Circle girls teams. Hubbard has added Dawson’s Jasmine Parks and her younger sister Tia to an already solid lineup that includes Nakaila Banks, Kate Saucke, Dallas Fletcher and Pepci Jones.