The busy summer basketball tournament season in Denton continues today as the Denton Summer Shootout tips off.
For the eighth consecutive year, the Denton Summer Shootout follows on the heels of the Great American Shootout, filling local gyms in the area with the sounds of balls bouncing and shoes squeaking on hardwood.
Unlike the Great American Shootout, which is open only to high school players, the Denton Summer Shootout, sponsored by Mid America Youth Basketball, has brackets for third grade through varsity. In this tournament, players who graduated from high school are even allowed to play in the 11th/12th-grade division, squeezing in one last memory of summer tournament ball.
“Registration has been really good, and we've got over 200 teams coming out this year,” said tournament organizer Steve Martin, who is in the oil business at Martin Eagle Oil. “This year we've got a few more local teams and a couple less out of town teams. Gas prices will do it. That's my business, so I know better than anyone.”
The tournament runs Friday through Sunday with bracket play starting Saturday evening for the boys and Sunday morning for the girls. Most championship games will be late Sunday afternoon, with full schedules for each division available at dentonsummershootout.com.
Several area varsity teams are registered for this year's tournament, with Ponder, Liberty Christian and Argyle all fielding boys summer teams in the 11th/12th-grade division (although Argyle plays under the pseudonym North Texas Wildcats). For the girls, Krum, Denton and Ryan (Lady Raiders TX) will all have varsity teams playing, with Krum in the Blue Division and Denton and the Lady Raiders in the Red Division.
Martin said that he expects both Denton and the Lady Raiders to compete for the title in the Red Division with perennial 2A power Brock. The MAYB devises the brackets for the Shootout, but chance stacked many of the more dominant girls teams in the Blue Division, with Krum expected to compete with tough squads Texas Extreme, Texas Lady Ballers, the Oklahoma City Lady Magic Ballers and NTGG Red.
For the boys, Martin indicated the Garland Jayhawks and Tulsa Hustlers come in with the best reputations, but the organizer said Lewisville, a team comprised of former Denton coach Henry Thomas' Fighting Farmer players and coached by his son Michael Thomas, could be a team to look out for following its championship victory in the NCAA Red Division of the Great American Shootout.
“Coach Thomas is doing a really good job over there, and his son's obviously learned how to coach from him,” Martin said.
Like in all summer tournaments, the competition is difficult to predict with summer all-star teams that have more athletic and often talented players taking on high school teams that may not have as many Division I prospects but have the advantage of playing with each other year-round.
“You never really know how teams are going to match up,” Martin said. “One team might be able to beat another team but not match up well with another at all. That's why you play the games.”
ETHAN B. SZATMARY can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com