Northeast Tarrant

Mustangs play through tough non-district, ready for games that count

The Grapevine boys basketball team is off to a strong start this season, and coach Kevin Starnes said he is optimistic about the Mustangs’ chances in their new district.

Starnes said that he purposely designed the non-district schedule to be difficult for his team to prepare his players for the type of competition it is going to face in district play.

“It's been tough, but intentionally so,” Starnes said. “Through the first 15 games, we are 9-6, and I feel like we are getting better. Every game, our young kids are getting more experience and more comfortable. The kids are starting to develop more chemistry.

“They are starting to have a better understanding of my vision of who we are and what's best for us. So I think that we are moving toward where we need to be as district is approaching.”

Starnes said that he does believe realignment may have benefited his team this eason.

“I think that everybody's expectations have gone up with the movement,” Starnes said. “Now, our district is going to be very competitive. Fort Worth Dunbar is currently ranked in the state. Birdville is always tough. Fort Worth Polytechnic is playing well. Eastern Hills is the only team that beat Dunbar last year in that district, and they return some of that team, so it's going to be challenging.

“But I think that our team is going to be able to compete. I think that our team is going to have some success. Our main focus is just to get better every practice and every game.”

Starnes said that it was important to both he and Stephen Hamrick at Colleyville Heritage to keep the Grapevine-Colleyville Heritage rivalry game going, even with the change in classification.

“The benefit of playing in a game like this for both of us is the atmosphere,” Starnes said. “It's like a playoff game, but it's a non-district game. That's kind of out of the ordinary. So, being able to play in this game, even though both teams really want to win, we both start district 0-0. But we will have gained the experience we need to play those big games down the road.”

Starnes opted to get his team into a tournament following a layoff for Christmas break and did so with good reason.

“We're in a tournament over at Lakeview Centennial, and we're going to be playing one game a day for three days after Christmas,” Starnes said. “All that is to get our legs back under us after the long layoff for Christmas.”