If the Mansfield Timberview boys basketball team wanted a litmus test before heading into the heart of district play, it picked the right venue. The Wolves will gauge themselves in the renowned Whataburger Tournament, starting with defending Class 6A state champs DeSoto on Wednesday.
Recognizing he had a solid core returning from last season’s regional semifinalist squad, Timberview coach Duane Gregory set out to challenge his team in non-district play. The Wolves responded with a 10-4 record, facing 6A competition in all but two of those games.
“Our whole non-district schedule has been about exposing us to the best competition we could, because that’s what our district is,” Gregory said.
District 10-5A has four teams ranked in the top 20 of the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll: Lancaster (No. 1), Waxahachie, Midlothian and Timberview itself.
The Wolves have actually played one district game, a 64-57 road win against Red Oak last week, and will re-enter district play Jan. 3 versus Midlothian.
Gregory and his players know that was an important victory out of the gate.
“It was big because it was road game,” Gregory said. “Every district one is big, but those road ones are particularly big. For us to get that and head into Christmas break with that was pretty important. In this district, it’s going to be tight. Every win and every road win is valuable.”
“It’s was huge because every game matters in district,” senior Chris Mullins added. “At the end, one game can affect your playoff seeding, so it was a huge road win.”
But back to that Whataburger Tournament, which runs Wednesday through Friday at Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us. The guys are excited about it. Whataburger is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the state. We’ll definitely get tested and see where we are at this point in the season,” Gregory said. “We’re focusing on ourselves and trying to play as well as we can, but you don’t have to tell the kids it’s DeSoto. They know DeSoto. They know who we’re playing and what they’re about. They know we’re going to have to step up and play at a high level to compete.”
Mullins said the team is geared up for challenge.
“It’s a big game because they are coming off a state championship,” he said. “We’re just going to go out there and play Timberview basketball. We know it’s a big game and we’re going to have to step up. We know it’s a big tournament, so it’s going to have to be a big weekend for all of us.”