The M.T. Rice Tournament, a staple in the Central Texas sports calendar since 1961, has constantly evolved in its six decades.
This year, the tournament has a new inclusive feel as Lorena and Connally are hosting games and the girls’ division has been divided into small school and big school brackets.
But since 1983, the tournament has had one constant — the Panthers’ inability to claim the boys’ championship.
Midway took its first two steps to changing that on Thursday as the Panthers notched a pair of lopsided victories. Midway defeated Robinson, 67-38, in the morning and thumped Georgetown, 75-41, late in the afternoon.
However, to the Panthers’ first-year head coach Matt Brown, it’s all a matter of stacking up wins as the tournament begins bracket play today.
“We came out and played well,” Brown said. “We’ve been kind of up and down this season. We lost a tough one going into the break against Shoemaker at home. It was good to see us respond the way we did. To play like this was really good for us today.”
In the Panthers’ second game of the day, guards Anthony Scott and Michael Jefferson helped Midway pull away from Georgetown beginning late in the first quarter. Scott and Jefferson each nailed a 3-pointer in the final minute of the period to give the Panthers a 20-12 lead.
Scott, who finished with 29 points, contributed 7 in the second quarter as Midway stretched its lead to double-digits by halftime.
Then the Panthers (15-5) used a strong defensive effort to run away from Georgetown in the third quarter.
Midway held the Eagles to 3 points in the period and went on a 19-0 to start the second half.
Panthers guard Charles Armstrong finished the surge with a 3-pointer to put them in front 55-22 with 3:45 left in the third quarter. Scott and Ty Davis nailed treys to finish the third and extend Midway’s lead to 39.
Jefferson finished with 12 points to join Scott in double figures for the Panthers.
Connally 76, University 51
Connally’s Zailin Cleveland scored 20 points and Korie Black added 17 as the Cadets raced past University on Thursday morning at Connally Middle School.
Cleveland hit a pair of 3-pointers on his way to 10 points in the first quarter, fueling Connally as it took a 23-11 lead after 8 minutes. The Cadets kept up the pressure in the second quarter and surged in front by 22 at the break.
Wilson Boggess led University with 18 points. He had 12 in the first half as he scored more than half of the Trojans points in the first and second quarters.