Beginning at 5 p.m. today, the second edition of the Patriot Invitational will begin its three-days in the spotlight with two basketball games.
Goose Creek Memorial, host of the tournament, will be one of the three sites including Robert E. Lee and Ross S. Sterling high schools, to showcase multiple games through Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. title game.
GCM (2-2) plays Waltrip at 6:30 tonight at home, while host REL (1-6) tips off with MacArthur at 5:30 and Sterling (1-7) is set to battle Kinkaid at 7 p.m. on its home floor.
“I think we have a very competitive field of teams from top to bottom including several playoff teams from the previous year,” GCM head coach Marcus Ebow said. “We also will have a team coming in from Melbourne, Australia which I think will be good for our Texas teams to compete with. We also have teams that are ranked in the top 25 in the state and several teams that feature college prospects.”
Defending champions North Shore, who won the title against Sam Houston, will not be back to try to win another crown, but teams from Deer Park, La Porte, Sam Houston, Aldine, Silsbee, Bellaire and other Houston schools will participate.
“Coach Ebow has done an amazing job of bringing in some of the better teams in the Houston area,” Sterling head coach Greg Smith said. “I know last year we hosted Beaumont United and North Shore games, as well as Sam Houston Math & Science Tech which are all state-ranked programs every year. It’s a great thing for our kids to see this level of talent in Baytown and host top caliber teams.
“As far as path in the tournament and upcoming schedule, we can only get better by playing better teams. We are in a bracket with Aldine, who will be deep with athletes and run all over the floor. It will be another good challenge for us and we will have to find a way to compete.”
It’s Ebow’s hope that the tournament continues to trend upward after a strong first year.
“Previously before we would attend the Lee College Classic, but once Lee decided not to put the event on anymore I thought it would be a fun and unique experience to have the opportunity to play an actual tournament on their home campus,” Ebow said. “Coach Smith and Coach Seth Due of Lee High School were very supportive in helping bring the idea to life as they both will play games at their respective campuses as well.
“I felt like it could be something exciting for the community to see high school programs from all over right in our own backyard.”
Smith sees the tournament as an opportunity to get his Rangers more competition and get his team trending in a positive direction.
“We obviously are not extremely excited about our current performance, but have several of our kids that came back from football who are starting to figure out their roles and get into the swing of things,” Smith said. “We have to continue to compete and get better everyday, and that’s what this tournament is about. That is a lot of games in a short span, as this is already our second tournament. That’s a good thing when we continuously talk about adversity and battling every single day, which is exactly what we will continue to do.”
Ebow has learned a lot while running this event.
“At the conclusion of this tournament we will think about how to make the tournament even better moving forward,” Ebow said. “We are seeking a major sponsor to come in and elevate the event to greater heights. I also would like to move the game times to occur during the school day so that we can give the students and players an amazing high school basketball experience that they can cherish for a long time.”