Basketball Participates in McDonald’s Invitational Tournament

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By Kazi Nassif

After coming off an impressive 63-43 win over Frisco Heritage, the varsity basketball team traveled to Houston to participate in a weekend-long competition against the state’s best basketball programs from November 19-21.

The McDonald’s Texas Invitational is a prestigious tournament reserved for the top 48 teams in the state. The team played many games over the course of the three days, a different challenge compared to the spaced out games during the regular season. On Thursday, they played two games against South Houston HS and Fort Bend Marshall HS, winning both games to place them into the gold division, the top tier in the competition. The team lost their first bracket game to Atascocita HS, but rebounded to win the consolation prize against Fort Bend Bush HS 60-56.

Head coach Justin Reese believes that this year’s team will be able to replicate the success of last year’s district championship winning team, especially considering the team’s strong performance in the McDonald’s Texas Invitational.

“Our kids’ mentality is that wherever we go we plan to win,” he said. “We have an experienced and confident group.”

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Photo by Gaby Fernandez

The team boasts six players from last year’s varsity team, meaning that experience will be a strong asset for the team going forward. Seven-foot senior Dylan Gollihar was impressed by some aspects of the team’s play, but said in order to stay competitive they must keep improving.

“We played some of the top teams in the state and were competitive with all of them,” Gollihar said. “Even though we played well in Houston, we still have a long way to go and a lot to work on. As a team we have to be continually improving in order to stay competitive.”

Looking forward, Gollihar plans to work on his overall game in order to help the team reach its potential.

“I’m constantly working on every aspect of my game,” Gollihar said. “Whether it’s my shot, weights, film – it’s always something.”

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Photo by Gaby Fernandez

Senior forward Ahmed Amanullah has been impressed by different parts of the team’s performance, especially the chemistry of the group.

“We have been able to have good communication on the court, and we’ve been doing a good job distributing and sharing the ball,” Amanullah said. “We need to focus on each of us filling our roles.”

Amanullah said he had a lot of fun at the invitational tournament and thought that it was a good opportunity for the team to bond. He also thought that the invitational was a chance to show that the varsity team can have great success going forward.

“It was such a great time to go because it was early and we got to know our teammates on and off the court,” Amanullah said. “In this tournament we were able to show that we are a dangerous team. We’re now ranked #5 in the state, and are finally getting respect.”

Amanullah said wants to elevate his game in order to help the team stay competitive with the best teams in Texas.

“I want to be a good leader, a good lock down defender, and be able to create my own shot,” Amanullah said. “I just want to be the best I can be while helping the team be the best.”