Cy Falls, Seven Lakes headline 2016 Kingwood Insperity Holiday Classic field

By Joshua Koch

HOUSTON – It has become a tradition of sorts days after Christmas for the basketball world to turn to tournaments across the Houston area.

Since 2009, the Insperity Holiday Classic, hosted at Kingwood High School has become a solid tournament for teams to do final tuneups in prior to diving into district play and making a push for the playoffs.

This year the Insperity Holiday Classic boasts a field of 16 teams, including Atascocita, whom made it to the 6A State Championship game last season, only to fall to DeSoto. Also included in the field are other area teams including Cy Falls, which is currently ranked 19th in the most recent Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll, Cy Woods, which won the tournament in 2014, Austin Anderson, which won it in 2012 and of course host Kingwood, which has won the tournament twice, 2015 and 2009.

Here is a full breakdown of the 16-team field for the 2016 Insperity Holiday Classic.

Yates (5-4)
Head Coach: Greg Wise
Playoffs Last Season: Yes (Lost to Fort Bend Elkins in the Regional Semifinals) 

The Lions enter the tournament winners of four of their last five, notching victories against C.E. King, Kashmere, Madison and Ball in that stretch.

Yates was not a part of the tournament field a year ago. The Lions opened the season losing three of their first four games but have rebounded since then.

The Lions open the tournament with a meeting with Austin Del Valle at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Del Valle (9-3)
Head Coach: Marvin Hall
Playoffs Last Season: Yes (Lost to Klein Forest in the Area Round) 

Del Valle returns to the Insperity Holiday Classic for a second-straight season. The Cardinals opened the season winners of four-straight beating McCallum, Westwood, Vista Ridge and McNeil.

The Cardinals played in the Austin Bowie Tournament and the Leander Lion Classic earlier this fall, making the Insperity Holiday Classic their third tournament.

Del Valle opens the tournament facing Houston Yates at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Summer Creek (6-6)
Head Coach: James Bailey
Playoffs Last Season: No

The Bulldogs have consistently been in the Insperity Holiday Classic, but have never finished in the top two at the end.

Summer Creek has won three of its last five heading into the tournament. The Bulldogs notching wins against Langham Creek, Jersey Village and Moody in that stretch.

Summer Creek opens the tournament against Houston Heights on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Houston Heights (9-5-1)
Head Coach: E Brew
Playoffs Last Season: No

Heights enters the tournament coming off a 58-50 loss to Furr to end the Houston ISD Tournament.

The Bulldogs ended the first half of their season in the last five games going 2-2-1, with a four overtime 67-67 tie with Northside in that span.

Houston Heights takes on Summer Creek in the opening round with a 9 a.m. tipoff. 

Cy Springs (6-7)
Head Coach: Sam Benitez
Playoffs Last Season: No

Cy Springs enters the Kingwood Insperity Holiday Classic winners of three of its last five games, including a 57-52 overtime win against Cy Creek to end the Cy-Hoops Invitational.

The Panthers are led by seniors Freddie Ricks, Tyreke Sapp and Jaivius Seals so far this season. Ricks is averaging 15.2 points per game, while Sapp is chipping in 14.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season.

Cy Springs opens the tournament against Seven Lakes on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

Seven Lakes (14-1)
Head Coach: Shannon Heston
Playoffs Last Season: Yes (Lost to Bellaire in Bi-District Round) 

Seven Lakes is off to one of the hottest starts in the Houston area.

The Spartans enter the Kingwood Insperity Holiday Classic winners of nine-straight games. In the most recent TABC 6A rankings, Seven Lakes broke into the Top 25 in the state at No. 25.

The lone loss of the year for Seven Lakes came to currently ranked No. 3 Klein Forest, 74-65, back on Dec. 2.

Seven Lakes is coming off a 62-42 victory against Katy to open District 19-6A play before the Christmas break.

The Spartans opens play against Cy Springs on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

Atascocita (7-6)
Head Coach: David Martinez
Playoffs Last Season: Yes (Lost to DeSoto in  6A State Championship Game) 

Atascocita has been one of the premiere programs in Texas during the past few seasons. The Eagles in the past three seasons have racked up an overall record of 102-10.

In that stretch the Eagles made it to the Regional Finals in two-straight seasons and the State Championship game last season.

This year the Eagles are off to a 7-6 start, finished fourth in the Kreul Classic, falling to University 70-60 in the third place game.

Atascocita is having to replace a lot off last year’s team but do have big man and University of Houston commit Fabian White.

The Eagles were runner-ups in this tournament in 2014 and 2012 but have never won it since it started in 2009.

Atascocita opens the tournament against Eastern Hills with tipoff slated for 10:30 a.m.

Eastern Hills (6-3)
Head Coach: Senecca Wall
Playoffs Last Season: No 

One of the few 5A schools participating in this year’s tournament, Eastern Hills comes in off a pair of wins against Arlington Heights and Richland to open district play.

The Highlanders will have their hands full in the tournament opener, drawing Atascocita.

Eastern Hills comes to Houston from the Fort Worth area. The Highlanders look to recreate some of the magic from the beginning of the season when they opened up 4-0 to start.

Eastern Hills faces Atascocita at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Cy Falls (11-3)
Head Coach: Richard Flores
Playoffs Last Season: Yes (Lost to Houston Math & Science Tech in Area Round) 

The Eagles are rolling to start this season, climbing to No. 19 in the most recent TABC poll.

Cy Falls has been led by junior Nigel Hawkins, averaging 21.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season. Behind Hawkins, Trajan Wesley is averaging 11.5 points per game and Kendall Scott chipping in 10.8 points per game.

Cy Falls’ losses this season have come at the hands of No. 18 Dekaney, No. 3 Klein Forest and Clear Lake.

The Eagles have won five of their last six entering the tournament, including a 66-43 win against The Woodlands.

Cy Falls opens tournament play against Austin Anderson on Tuesday at noon.

Austin Anderson (6-10)
Head Coach: Daniel Pittsford
Playoffs Last Season: Yes (Lost to Atascocita in Area Round) 

Austin Anderson is returning to a tournament that it won back in 2012, defeating Atascocita in the title game.

The Trojans enter the Kingwood Insperity Holiday Classic winning two of their last five games, getting victories against Moody and Round Rock in that stretch.

Austin Anderson hopes to get back on the winning side of things, trying to avoid a three-game losing streak for the first time this season with a win on Tuesday.

Austin Anderson will have to beat Cy Falls to do that. Tipoff for that game is slated for noon on Tuesday.

The Woodlands (9-6)
Head Coach: Dale Reed
Playoffs Last Season: Yes (Lost to Westfield in Bi-District Round) 

The Woodlands will try and use the Kingwood Insperity Classic to get back on track after losing four of its last five games to end the first half of the season.

The Highlanders have faired well in this tournament in the past finishing as the runner-up in 2013.

The Woodlands’ last two losses have come at the hands of state ranked teams, Klein Forest, 65-57, and Cy Falls, 66-43.

The Highlanders open tournament play up against Cy-Fair on Tuesday with tipoff set for noon.

Cy-Fair (7-8)
Head Coach: Chad Sulemanji
Playoffs Last Season: No

Cy-Fair enters the Kingwood Insperity Holiday Classic winners of three of its last five, including a 66-65 victory against Conroe.

The Bobcats have scored 60 or more points in five of its last seven games, scoring north of 70 in three of those, including a 75-69 win against Alief Elsik.

Noah Thomas has rejoined the team in its last four games, averaging 18.5 points per game in that stretch. Cameron Gims is trailing Thomas by just a few points, averaging 13.8 points pe game but that has come in 13 games this season.

Gims’ has scored a season-high 26 points twice this season and once has recorded a double-double – scoring 19 and grabbing 12 boards against Foster on December 1.

Cy-Fair gets The Woodlands in the opening round on Tuesday with tipoff slated for noon.

Kingwood (8-6)
Head Coach: Royce Huseman
Playoffs Last Season: Yes (Lost to Dekaney in Bi-District Round) 

Kingwood comes into its tournament winners of four-straight and have gone 6-4 in their previous 10 games.

The Mustangs’ in their last four games have averaged 44.5 points per game, while giving up 39.5. The wins have come against Kempner, Plano, Klein and Spring.

Kingwood opens the tournament as the defending champions, winning it last year, doing so for the first time since 2009.

Kingwood faces Nimitz in the opening round with tipoff slated for 1:30 p.m.

Nimitz (9-3)
Head Coach: Nathan Toon
Playoffs Last Season: Yes (Lost to Cypress Ranch in Bi-District Round) 

The Cougars come into the Kingwood Insperity Holiday Classic losing three of its last five games.

Nimitz has won two-straight coming into the tournament, both being District 16-6A games, beating C.E. King, 69-43, and Aldine, 67-40.

Nimitz plays host Kingwood to open tournament play with tipoff slated for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Lamar (11-1)
Head Coach: Jerry Van Dusen
Playoffs Last Season: Yes (Lost to Cinco Ranch in Bi-District Round) 

The Texans are making their presence felt to open the 2016-2017 season.

Lamar has won eight-straight games entering the Kingwood Insperity Holiday Classic after their lone loss to Cy Falls, 67-65, on November 23.

The Texans have shown the ability to score, pushing past 90 points three times this season, including a 101-53 beat down of St. John’s on November 18.

In their current winning streak, the Texans are averaging 73.8 points per game, while holding opponents to just 56.

Lamar is coming off a 90-60 win against Sterling entering the tournament.

The Texans open the tournament against Cy Woods with tipoff set for 1:30 p.m.

Cy Woods (3-11)
Head Coach: Chris Draudt
Playoffs Last Season: No

Cy Woods has not had the start to the season they would have hoped for.

The Wildcats losing seven-straight games before picking up their first win against worthing on December 2.

Coming into the tournament, Cy Woods is fresh off a 58-49 win against Clements. Cy Woods won the Kingwood Insperity Holiday Classic last in 2014, beating Atascocita.

Cy Woods opens tournament play against Lamar with tipoff set for 1:30 p.m.



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