The annual Van Griffith Kia Basketball Tournament in Granbury is never without interesting subplots, and this year is certainly no different.
The boys bracket will feature a rivalry and the return of an old friend. The girls bracket, as always, is loaded with state-ranked powerhouses.
It all gets under way Thursday morning when Granbury’s Lady Pirates face Fort Worth Nolan Catholic at 9:30. The upper part of the Lady Pirates’ bracket includes Kennedale, the No. 1 Class 3A team by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. The two are set to meet in the semifinals.
The bottom part of the bracket also includes four state-ranked squads. Aledo, which shares District 7-4A with the Lady Pirates, is sixth in Class 4A, while Arlington Seguin is 11th in 4A, Beaumont Central is 19th in 4A, and rival Stephenville is 13th in 3A.
“When someone goes to a tournament, the thing they want to see is great teams,” said Lady Pirate coach Leta Andrews. “It’s always a thrill to see a bunch of great teams playing in the same place.
“It’s going to be an exciting weekend, that’s for sure.”
The boys bracket has only one state-ranked team – Nolan Catholic, No. 7 among large private schools. It does, however, have an old rival and a former coach coming to town.
The Pirates will open the tournament against longtime rival and former district foe Cleburne at 11 a.m. Thursday. They will face Wichita Falls Rider at 5 p.m. Thursday and District 7-4A foe Fort Worth Southwest Friday at 8 p.m.
Unlike the girls, the boys are playing a round-robin format with two pools. Pool A includes Granbury, Cleburne, Rider and Southwest, while Pool B includes Nolan Catholic, Killeen, Keller and Aledo.
Aledo is coached by former Granbury coach Steve Smith. While at Granbury for four seasons, Smith turned the Pirates from a four-victory team into a squad that narrowly missed reaching the playoffs on the final day.
“I’m looking forward to it, my old stomping grounds,” said Smith. “I’ll see some people I haven’t seen in a long time and do some catching up.
“I spent four years of my life there, and we accomplished a lot.”
This is not Smith’s first trip back to Granbury since going to Aledo. He brought the Bearcats here last year, and the Pirates won 59-50.
Smith is also a longtime friend of current Pirate coach David Breazeale, who, like Smith, has the Pirates on the verge of the postseason. Last season, Granbury fell short of its first winning season since 2003-04 when it lost on the final night of the season to finish 16-17.
“David is doing a great job with the team,” said Smith. “I don’t know if we’ll play them this weekend, but we’ll definitely have to be ready when we play them in district.”
Aledo and Granbury could face each other Saturday. They will certainly meet twice in District 7-4A play, Jan. 8 at the James Wann Sports Center and Feb. 1 in Aledo.
Smith guided Aledo to the playoffs last season for the first time in several years, finishing 20-11.
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