Tuesday seemed like an ordinary day for Victoria East senior Andrew Alexander. Wake up, get dressed and go to school.

However, things quickly went from normal to emotional when he arrived at the East gym for the first Victoria East alumni basketball game Tuesday night.

Alexander got the surprise of his life when his brother, Austin Alexander, was waiting for him, dressed up and ready to play.

Austin, who graduated from East in 2014, was back home after serving in the Marine Corps. He was previously with the Combat Logistics Regiment 25, headquartered in Camp Lejuene, N.C.

“We had a lot of battles growing up,” Andrew Alexander said. “To finally play each other at our peaks is something we’ve been longing for.”

Austin Alexander always made sure to be by his brother’s side growing up.

From basketball practices to cheering him on during games, he and Andrew Alexander were inseparable.

“He always told me to never give up,” Andrew Alexander said. “No matter what, he always wanted me to do my best.”

The East varsity team edged the alumni with a 74-72 win Tuesday night.

Nydric Dean scored 20 points to lead the East varsity team.

Branden Williams finished with 22 points to lead the alumni.

Austin Alexander scored 19 points while finishing with three 3-pointers.

“It’s been crazy seeing him develop,” Austin Alexander said. “With me being in the Marines, I missed a lot of his games, and every time I come home, I see a drastic change in his maturity. It’s great to play against him and his hard work.”

“We try to preach a family atmosphere with the program here at East,” added East coach John Howie. “Having an opportunity for his brother come back and share this experience in the alumni game is something they’re going to remember the rest of their lives.”

The Titans will have familiar faces on the court this season. Andrew Alexander, Nydric Dean, Ethan Farias, Daemien Robles and Ethan White are all returners.

Marquis Kuykendall, Brady Parker, Jaren Wilson, Sam Arce, Ed Clay, Terrence Terrell and Jayden Kueker will look to help East make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Clay and Wilson return after spending their junior seasons at St. Joseph.

“I’m excited for this year,” said Clay, who scored 15 points. “It’s going to be tough, but we will figure it out. I’m ready to play.”

The Titans open the season Friday against Van Vleck on the road.

The team’s home opener is set for next Tuesday against Bay City.

“I want them to always play their hardest,” said East graduate Cole Wozniak, who advanced to the regional semifinals with the Titans in 2011. “You never know what game is going to be your last, so no matter who is in front of you, go out there and play your hardest.”

“They’re a talented team and they’re young,” Austin Alexander added. “It took a lot coming into a new district, but I think they have matured.”

East alumni

Devin Delegarza (2015)

Kendre Franklin (2017)

Bryant Ennels (2016)

Branden Wiliams (2011)

Conner Graham (2011)

Cole Wozniak (2011)

Jordan Mahan (2015)

Jamie Thomas (2011)

Austin Allen (2019)

Austin Alexander (2014)

Wallace McNary (2018)

Victoria East 74, Victoria East alumni 72

Points: (VE) Nydric Dean 20, Ed Clay 15, Daemien Robles 11, Andrew Alexander 4, Jayden Kueker 9, Ethan White 9, Brady Parker 2, Marquis Kuykendall 4. (VEA) Branden Williams 22, Austin Alexander 19, Jamie Thomas 9, Devin Delagarza 5, Conner Graham 7, Wallace McNary 2, Cole Wozniak 2. 3-pointers: Austin Alexander 3, Branden Williams 6, Cole Wozniak 1.

Rey Castillo is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached at rcastillo@vicad.com, 361-574-1240 or on Twitter @reycastillo361.

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