Day One 

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The fourth annual Houston County Holiday Basketball Tournament tipped off on Wednesday, Dec. 28 with pool play in both Crockett and Grapeland.

The five teams in Pool A were in Crockett’s Andrew J. Hopkins Activity Center while the five teams in Pool B played on the Sandies’ home court.

Pool A consisted of: the Crockett Bulldogs; the China Spring Cougars; the Fairfield Eagles; the Pollock Central Bulldogs; and the Westwood Panthers.

Pool B Consisted of: the Grapeland Sandies; the Diboll Lumberjacks; the Frankston Indians; the Madisonville Mustangs; and the Trinity Tigers.

The first game in Pool A featured the tournament co-host Crockett Bulldogs going up against the Fairfield Eagles. The Dawgs were positioned to win the game after three quarters with the score tied at 39. Unfortunately for Crockett, turnovers and ice cold shooting from the field doomed their chances for an upset over the #23 ranked Class 4A Eagles as they fell by final score of 52-43.

Game two saw a match-up between the China Spring Cougars and Westwood Panthers. The Cougars held the Panthers to one point in the first quarter and were never threatened throughout the rest of the game.

In the third game of the day, the Fairfield Eagles took on the Central Pollock Bulldogs in one of the more exciting contests on Wednesday. After leading by three after the first eight minutes of action, the Bulldogs trailed by three at halftime. Try as they might, Central was unable to overcome the three point margin in the second half and fell to the Eagles by a score of 57-53.

The hometown Dawgs were back in action during the fourth game of the day as they took on the Westwood Panthers. Crockett led by four after the first quarter and pushed their lead to 20 by halftime.

After the break, the Dawgs used a big third quarter to put the game away on the offensive end of the court. Defensively, Crockett held Westwood to a total of nine second half points as they doubled up the Panthers by a score of 76-38.

The final game of the day in Crockett saw China Spring taking on Central Pollock in the closest game of the day. The action was fast and furious as both teams raced up and down the court before the Cougars pulled out a one point victory, 49-48, over the Bulldogs.

After the first day in Pool A, the results showed China Spring, along with Fairfield, sporting 2-0 records, Crockett sat at 1-1, while Pollock Central and Westwood were both 0-2.

The games in Pool B started with a matchup between Trinity and Frankston. The Indians fell behind by six after the first period of play and could never quite catch up.

The Indians didn’t lose any ground in the second quarter and only trailed 18-12 at the half.

Trinity, however, added to their lead after the break and pulled away in the fourth quarter to win by a final score of 47-33.

Game two saw a good matchup between Diboll and Madisonville. The Lumberjacks trailed after the first quarter by three and by seven at the half. Diboll began to whittle away at the Mustangs’ lead in the third quarter and cut their deficit to three by the start of the fourth quarter.

The physicality of the Jacks began to take its toll as the game wore on and when the horn sounded to end the game, Diboll had come all the way back to win by one, 49-48.

The Sandies took the court following the Diboll/Madisonville game and Grapeland wasted little time in showing Trinity why they were ranked in the top ten in Class 2A. The Sandies led by 13 after the first quarter and by 12 at the half.

Grapeland pulled away in the third quarter as they scored 19 and held the Tigers to nine. The fourth quarter saw Trinity attempt to make a comeback but the Sandies’ lead was too large to overcome as Grapeland won by a final score of 70-59.

Madisonville was back in action following the Grapeland game and they took out their frustrations for their one point loss on Frankston. While the score was close at halftime, the Mustangs turned up the intensity after the break and galloped away with a 57-33 win.

The final game of the day saw Grapeland taking on Diboll. The game was close throughout as the Jacks led by one, 14-13, after the first period. The Sandies caught fire in the second quarter, however, as they scored 22 and held Diboll to nine points in the quarter.

Faced with a 35-27 lead coming out of halftime, Diboll began to whittle down the Grapeland lead and cut it to two with one quarter left to play.

The quick hands of the Sandies’ defense, along with some clutch free throw shooting, allowed Grapeland to pull away before Diboll could mount a comeback. As a result, the Sandies won the game by a final score of 68-61 and became the only team to finish play on Wednesday in Pool B with a record of 2-0.

Diboll, Madisonville and Trinity all finished the first day of the tournament with a 1-1 record while Frankston ended the day with a mark of 0-2.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at