BROWNSBORO — When Fred Griffin arrived in this Henderson County city some 30 years ago, Brownsboro was hosting a basketball tournament with eight girls teams and eight boys teams entered.
It was just a tourney then, but over the years it has gradually become bigger and bigger and has blossomed into a shootout — the Great East Texas Shootout. It is now one of the biggest tournaments in Texas.
“We feel it is a great event for our community, the Brownsboro-Chandler area,” said Griffin, the Brownsboro Bearettes coach. “It creates some opportunities for our businesses. Our people here like it and enjoy it.”
This year there are 29 girls teams and 17 boys teams entered (Tenaha dropped out as the Tigers are still in the football playoffs). By the time the championship games roll around on Saturday (girls at 4:45 p.m. and boys at 6:15 p.m.) there will be some 92 games played. Admission is $5, while programs are $3. Of course, there is plenty of good food in the concession area.
And if this was a bowl game, the tournament would be compared to the Cotton Bowl as the hospitality is second to none. Another treat is the youngsters from kindergarten on up get to spend some time in the gym viewing games. Their enthusiasm pumps up the teams.
The tournament began adding teams in the late 1980s.
“It really started expanding about 1987 and 1988 when we built this gym (high school),” Griffin said. “We used to play in three gyms and now we have four. We have another gym in Chandler; but we try to keep it in this general area (around Brownsboro High School). We would like to get a few more boys teams in the future.”
Both Griffin’s Bearettes and Tobin Reid’s Bears began the tourney in style with wins. The Bearettes rallied to defeat Gilmer, 40-34, while the Bears got out of the gates fast, scoring a 63-37 win over Kemp.
“We are really young — three freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors and a senior,” Griffin said. “We do really well sometimes; and sometimes we struggle. I think it is our youth. We are getting better. We’re playing hard and we are learning. This year it is just quarter to quarter.”
Sidney Hightower led the Bearettes (7-4) with 12 points, while Briana Warren added 11. Devin Carver and Shelbie Bagby had seven points each. Gilmer led 17-9 at halftime, only to see Brownsboro catch fire with 19 third-quarter points.
Jasmin Jones led the Lady Buckeyes with 11 points, while Diamond Shaw and Jameekia Homer added eight and seven points, respectively.
In the boys game, four Bears scored in double figures — Davonte Givens (15), Taylor Beall (14), Patrick McCarthy (13) and Blake Ralson (11).
Brownsboro (7-2) led 30-22 at halftime, but McCarthy came out on fire in the third, scoring eight points to help the Bears pull away.
The Yellow Jackets were led by Corey Watkins and Jordan Litts, who each scored 11 points.
NOTES: The Brownsboro Athletic Booster Club conducts the tournament. Rhenea Barnes is the booster club president. … Gyms used are at the high school, elementary, junior high and intermediate campuses.