The Arlington Seguin basketball team relishes the opportunity to play on a national stage tonight when the Cougars take on defending Class 4A state champ Dallas Kimball.
The Cougars' game against the No. 6 Knights (3-4) will air at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU and is the first of two games at Grand Prairie High School. DeSoto (13-1) and Chicago Simeon (1-0), two of the top-ranked teams in the country, will tip off shortly afterward and will air on ESPN as part of the GEICO High School Basketball Showcase, a two-month string of games from around the country.
"I think it'll be a good opportunity for me and my teammates," said Seguin's Brandon Parrish, a 6-foot-5 wing who has committed to TCU. "I feel like it will help showcase our talent as a team, not just in front of the state but the nation. We've really been trying to get in the nation's top 25 rankings, and we feel that we were somewhat disrespected by not being put in there."
Seguin (11-2), ranked No. 1 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' Class 4A state poll, has won six consecutive games and is coming off a 44-41 victory over host Cedar Hill in the Lions Club Tournament championship game last weekend. Parrish scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the title game and was named tournament MVP.
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"The tournament was a big turning point for us," Parrish said. "I think we grew as a team and started to jell as a team. We had all of our players playing at near their full potential, and we're coming close to that state-caliber team that we want to be."
Parrish said he expects both teams will bring their best game tonight, saying "nobody wants to get embarrassed on TV."
The inaugural DFW Basketball Challenge tips off Saturday with a handful of games in a showcase at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center in Fort Worth.
Seven of the eight participating teams are from the area, but Memphis (Tenn.) Mitchell, a state runner-up last season, will also play.
Fort Worth Nolan Catholic and Euless Trinity will start at 2 p.m., followed by Arlington Bowie vs. Wichita Falls Hirschi. Then Fort Worth Trimble Tech plays Lancaster and Fort Worth Wyatt meets Mitchell in the nightcap.
The Showcase, in cooperation with the Fort Worth ISD and Meador Dodge, is also a toy drive for the Marines Corps Reserves/Toys For Tots program. Day passes are $10 presale or $12 at the gate. A $10 toy donation is good for a day pass.
"We set out to create something that would be very entertaining for the average basketball fan, then at the same time make a positive impact on the community," said Wyatt assistant coach and DFW Challenge co-founder DeMarqus James. "Eventually if this goes well, we want to continue to do it and hopefully we can attract teams from all over."
All five of the top-ranked teams in the TABC Class 5A state poll hail from the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.
DeSoto is at the top, followed by South Grand Prairie, Rowlett, Mansfield Timberview and Duncanville. In all, 11 DFW teams are in the top 20, including Tarrant County teams North Crowley (No. 15) and Richland (No. 18).
The Metroplex's dominance doesn't stop at the 5A level either. Six of the top 12 ranked teams in 4A are from North Texas, headlined by No. 1 Arlington Seguin.
DFW also has a strong presence in the private school ranks with four teams in the top 10, including No. 2 Nolan Catholic.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760