By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
The girls bracket held to form on Day 1 of the Kiwanis Classic.
The closest margin of victory? Teague's 16-point win over Hubbard in the third girls game of the day.
Mildred beat Dawson 66-15. Frost defeated Rice 63-24. And in the nightcap, Kerens dominated Blooming Grove 58-17. That's an average margin of 43.67 per win.
It didn't make for a very exciting opening day at the K. and Ida Wolens Special Events Center on Thursday. But it should set us up for a thrilling Friday and Saturday with nice balance in the championship and consolation brackets.
It's an elite grouping of girls teams. Three of them are ranked -- the LadyCats are No. 2 in Class 1A Division I, Frost is No. 10 in 1A DII and Teague is No. 16 in 2A. They have combined for 44 wins and just six losses.
Mildred, the only unranked winner in Thursday's opening round, ran its record up to 12-4 (one of the Lady Eagles' losses came in district to Teague).
In the closest game on paper, Hubbard, with 13 wins, couldn't get within striking distance of Teague. The Lady Jaguars had several chances in the fourth quarter to cut into a nine-point lead, but Teague's outside shooters -- Haley Guerrero and Alexandra Watson -- stopped Hubbard with cold-blooded 3-pointers.
Even Nakaila Banks couldn't shoot Hubbard all the way back into the game, even though she made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter before and after suffering from an upset stomach -- yes, you know what I mean -- near halfcourt.
"Banks is the real deal," Teague coach Taylor Sim said. "I'm glad she didn't heat up until late in the game."
Mildred and Frost both won easily, even though they played in the morning and had some trouble finding their top levels of energy. The teams will play at 3 p.m. on Friday in a game that could give us our first buzzer beater of the tournament (if it doesn't come earlier in the consolation round).
The odds are against anyone beating the LadyCats, who have lost only to Class 3A Mexia, Tyler T.K. Gorman and also to Dallas Triple-A Academy in a disputed game. Kerens played in Dallas and the game wasn't refereed by UIL-sanctioned officials. The loss didn't impact the LadyCats -- they are only behind Martin's Mill in the state poll (that's who beat Kerens in the state semifinals).
I asked Blooming Grove coach J.J. Guidry if he had a game plan to beat Kerens. It was an impossible question to answer.
"They have a great basketball team," Guidry said. "They do a tremendous job of pressuring the ball and they show a lot of multiple looks on defense."
Guidry had a diplomatic answer when asked if Teague, Frost or Mildred can hang with Kerens.
"It will be interesting," Guidry said. "Teague also likes to pressure the ball. And there are two solid teams on the other side of the bracket."
It's a tall order for anyone against Kerens, just like it has been when this tournament became a small-school event.
The LadyCats are loaded with players that played in a state tournament game earlier this year in Austin. The Lady Lions are a team getting used to the uptempo style Guidry will eventually have fully installed and ready for wins in Blooming Grove.
Until someone gets close to the LadyCats, this is their tournament and their stage.