HOUSTON – A few years ago, Kevin Mouton had an idea.
The Second Baptist School men's basketball coach wanted to host a private school basketball tournament. In 2020, despite the challenges of COVID-19, that dream became a reality with the Houston Private School Classic.
"I wanted to create a tournament for private schools from all over the state of Texas. There's a lot of talent throughout the state," says Mouton.
Second Baptist School men's basketball assistant coach Danny Evans added, "I always thought having an event for private schools from all over the state would be a really great idea to create excitement and give the schools publicity."
The 12-team tournament tipped off on December 28, and finished up two days later, with all games hosted at Second Baptist School.
Westbury Christian, St. Pius X, Concordia Lutheran, St. Thomas Episcopal, Second Baptist School, Grace Christian Academy, Antonian College Prep, St. John's, St. John XXIII, Fort Bend Christian Academy, Lutheran South Academy and St. Thomas filled up the brackets and provided some big-time performances and thrilling wins.
Second Baptist School Director of Athletics Mike Walker said, "We created a unique tournament logo from scratch, social media graphics, a digital program, Twitter account and digital tickets. We wanted the teams that came this year to walk away saying this was a great tournament, well-branded and well-run. Our hope was that the participating schools would be eager to return and spread the word to other coaches about what a great event Second Baptist School put on for our kids."
St. Thomas, led by coach Karnell James, won the Gold Bracket with a 67-49 victory over Fort Bend Christian academy.
"I thought it was phenomenal," James said of the tournament. "To be able to see all this talent in one gym is pretty awesome. Typically, we would have to watch YouTube videos or send someone to scout but to see all this talent in one weekend is pretty special."
FILL IN THE BRACKET!!! @AntonianBBall Xavier Martinez takes their sticker and puts it on the final spot!! The Apaches are the Champs of @HTown_PSClassic!! @mawalker_SBAD @acpapaches @ACPHighSchool @g_ramos3 @freddyamaro32 @SOchoa40 @armstrongb_15 @AntonianBBall @TAPPSbasketball pic.twitter.com/KMp3V5qzu2
— VYPE San Antonio (@VypeSATX) December 31, 2020
The Platinum Bracket was won by Antonian College Prep, led by Gavino Ramos' 18-point performance. They took home the top prize, which included being named as the champions on the final bracket.
"Coach [Kevin] Mouton and all the volunteers did a great job," Antonian coach Rudy J. Bernal said. "With nobody else hosting tournaments other than private schools, it was great for us to come here and compete."
Concordia Lutheran, which boasts Boise State signee RJ Keene on its roster, finished runner-up in the three-day tournament, and coach Bill Honeck emphasized the importance of the tournament to the development of his team.
"We are at 12-4 now and usually we are at 25-plus games at this point," he said. "It kick-started us into the second semester of school, which is always district time. Going through the overtime game and getting the job done was an invaluable experience for our team."
At the end of the tournament, a Houston Private School Classic All-Tournament team was named including Westbury Christian's Chris Felix and Zaire Walker, Grace Christian Academy's Nick Anderson, Concordia Lutheran's Trey Miller and RJ Keene, Antonian's Bryon Armstrong and Santiago Ochoa, St. John's Jackson Comier, Second Baptist School's Jordan Williams, St. Thomas Episcopal's Jacobey Flores, St. Thomas' Jake Pike and Fort Bend Christian Academy's Samuel Cole.
The overall MVP of the tournament went to Antonian's Gavino Ramos.
As they look towards the 2021 tournament already, Evans is excited about its future.
"The perfect scenario is we have 24 teams," he said. "Sixteen of the best private schools in Houston and then add in the DFW, Austin and San Antonio area and teams from all over the state."
Coach Walker summarizes by saying, "The past few months have been tough for everyone, and it gave me great joy to see parents, coaches and athletes safely enjoying a tournament atmosphere. This tournament will continue to attract the absolute best private school teams in the state. I'm excited to see it grow!"
The San Antonio-area is full of boys' and girls' hoop talent, which was on display at Antonian College Prep earlier in the month.
Converse Judson girls and Wagner boys headline the "Alamo City" hoop powers. Judson won state and Wagner reached the Final Four.
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