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Victoria Classic has foreign feel

Dec. 26, 2010 at 6:26 a.m.


VICTORIA CLASSIC TUESDAY GAMES11 a.m.: East vs. El Campo

12:30 p.m.: Austin Reagan vs. Sam Houston

2 p.m.: Trent vs. Sam Houston

5:30 p.m.: HCYA vs. Victoria East

7 p.m.: Sam Houston vs. Victoria West

The Victoria Classic was almost a international affair. As it stands, it still has an multi-cultural flair to it.

Among the teams Victoria West coach Pat Erskine had on the list for a while was a travelling team from Australia.

"They overbooked and couldn't come," he said.

They also had a team from out of state in the bracket recently, but they couldn't make it either.

"We had a team from Missouri that had to drop out," Erskine said. said.

This means the 2010 Victoria Classic will be an all-Texas affair, sort of.

The field includes Houston HCYA North, Austin Reagan, El Campo, Houston Sam Houston, Victoria East and West, and Sugar Land Trent Internationale, a school that serves both students visiting America from overseas and some from the states.

It will bring an international flavor to the Classic. It will also bring a lot of height.

Its team is filled with tall players from many walks of life. There's 6-foot-10 junior Ali Ali Mohamed, 6-foot-9 junior Audi Shehu, and 6-foot-8 "small forward" Kachuol Panmanding.

Good luck to the teams handling their height, and good luck to the PA announcer with those names.

The two Victoria-based teams have had different results in the first half of the season.

The Warriors have had a rough go of the early season, closing it out with a record of 6-11 and a loss to El Campo, which they will get a chance to avenge on Wednesday.

They've faced some tough teams, Erskine said.

He said he expects to see both speed teams and slow down teams, and some with size too.

He equated many of the Warriors likely opponents to one the team saw earlier this month - Killeen.

"I think we'll see the same kind of teams (as Killeen)," Erskine said. "Some diversity, some slow down teams and some fast paced teams.

"We found out early that several teams will take advantage of their size, and we've had to learn how to put pressure on the ball."

He can definitely expect to see tall teams. West dodges Trent, as does East, but will face HCYA in the final game on Thursday. East plays HCYA on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

HCYA has had good teams in the past, and is 16-10 heading into the Classic. They have an outstanding freshman guard that's averaging about 16 points per game in Justin Jackson, and a 6-foot-10 junior center named Danrad Knowles. The team also has only one senior, a 6-foot-8 forward named Andrew Costello.

Both of the Victoria teams are giving these two teams between three and five inches (Clayton Cain is 6-foot-5 for the Warriors, while East tops out with Colt Horvath at about the same.) If anything, Trent and HCYA North will give their opponents good games just on that alone.

This assessment also doesn't factor in team speed, the one advantage the Titans have been able to exploit all season.

The Titans, who have a record of 12-3 heading into the tournament and have made good use of their speed so far this year.

But their inconsistency on offense that has worried coach John Grammer.

"We want to learn from some of the bad games we've had," he said. "Lately, we've been out of sync with our offense. ... Part of it is we have some new players and some new combinations."

But one of the biggest things that caused problem, fatigue, won't be a problem. the Titans played 10 games in two weeks, many of them on the road.

Grammer said the lack of practice could be a problem. Neither West nor East practiced over the break, having to take the mandatory five days for Christmas.

"When you're playing well, practice kind of flows," he said. "When you're not playing well, you need that practice to get the fundamentals and to make some shots."

Houston Sam Houston is rebuilding. The school was shut down for academic reasons a few years ago, and reopened after being reorganized.

The other Class 5A program coming to town, Austin Reagan, is struggling this season also.

El Campo, the only other regional team in the tournament, is off to a 4-10 record. Two of those four wins are against District 30-4A opponents, including West.

Each team will play a total of four games, and won't see two of the six other teams. One of the teams East and West won't face at the Classic? Each other.

"John and I said it would be best to wait for district," Erskine said.

John Hornberg covers Victoria East and West for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him by e-mail at jhornberg@vicad.com, or comment on this column at AdvoSports.com.

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