The El Campo Ricebirds (10-8) closed the book on the 2021 portion of their season about as good as you can by winning the Blackcat basketball tournament Wednesday afternoon at Bay City High School.
El Campo finished the tournament with an 80-55 win over the Brookshire Royal Falcons, a district opponent.
The Ricebirds tore through the Bay City gym going 3-0 with wins over Yoakum, Palacios and Brookshire Royal, defeating all three teams by an average score of 87 to 47.
“We got some continuity and some chemistry. We’ve played together, learned each other, got some practices in and they responded,” El Campo coach Kevin Lewis said. “I felt like defensively we were way better off then our last games so that was the difference, getting easy buckets off steals and (points) in transition.”
El Campo in the finale played fast and hit the Brookshire Royal Falcons with timely full-court presses, forcing turnovers and putting the game nearly out of reach in the first quarter.
The Ricebirds played unselfishly throughout the game and their first two buckets came off assists.
El Campo sophomore La’Darian Lewis made a no-look pass to senior Trinceton Foley for the game’s first score.
After a Royal miss, Foley found Cruz Gonzales for a layup for a quick 4-0 lead.
Sophomore Oliver Miller made a steal at half-court and raced up court scoring on a reserve layup.
The Ricebirds defense kept forcing turnovers taking an 11-0 lead before Royal took a timeout. Back on the court, Royal got on the scoreboard with a layup. El Campo’s offense stayed hot, with Foley connecting on a three and Lewis scoring with a layup to give them a 13 point lead.
El Campo’s pressure stayed strong throughout the quarter if Royal made it through the press they held them to one shot, with Foley and Lewis getting rebounds. The Ricebirds closed the first quarter with them ahead 24-8.
Royal only scored 20 plus points once, in the fourth, with El Campo playing a mixture of starters and backups.
The Ricebirds had no trouble scoring, getting their 80 points, only connecting on three threes.
“We’ve got good chemistry (this year), we play tough and we’re just trying to win,” Foley said.
El Campo had three in double-digit scoring, Foley lead all scorers with 35 points, Lewis had 18 and Miles had 11.
Despite playing a tougher schedule and some roster churn, the Ricebirds are three wins away from matching their 2021 total.
“It was amazing, all three games,” Lewis said. “We still have a lot to work on. A lot to get better at. A lot to accomplish. This doesn’t help or hurt us towards our goal, but it was definitely a good way to close out the year.”
They will play the Needville Bluejays on the road Tuesday night.
El Campo will start district against the Sealy Tigers on the road on Jan 14.