Hornets return to Unified championship
Mar. 4—HUMBLE — For the second consecutive year, Huntsville's Unified basketball team is heading back to the UIL state tournament for a chance to play for a title.
In the Hornets' short season, they have gone 3-0 in play and now look to win one more to win the title in back-to-back years.
They did so by defeating Port Neches Grove 41-28 in the regional game to advance back.
"The thing that I am most proud of is we have held true to the way we play the game," Unified head coach and director of WCSO Jason Elliott said. "It truly is a team sport for us where everyone is involved. A rule early for us was to get an athlete to shoot first, and to keep them involved."
The UIL Unified program was started last season as a way to include every kid in an athletic event process. The Hornets team is built of athletes and partners, both play a strong role in each other's lives.
Huntsville uses this program to help these kids build lifelong bonds on the court and that played a big part in the regional game against PNG.
DeMarcus Gable was on fire for Huntsville in the game as he scored 24 of the Hornets' 41 points, but that is a factor of getting help from his teammates, something this coaching staff tried to incorporate.
"That's what I like to see on our scorebooks as much as possible," Elliott said. "I want our athletes to be just as involved in the game as our partners. To score 24 points out of 41 is pretty awesome. Our partners were a big part of that and our defense was phenomenal."
As this marks the second time this team has made it this far, there is more to it than just winning titles and games, it becomes a lifestyle that has some of the players wanting to get out on the court and practice no matter the scenario.
While winning is fun, it is not everything for this team. The Hornets feed off their success, as well as the other teams, in games but it is more about getting out on the court and playing the game of basketball.
"Winning creates excitement but they are just excited to play the game and be a part of the team that works well together," Elliott said. "They feed off each other's success and they get excited for everyone. I've seen them cheer for the other team just as much as they do for ours. They get excited and to give them the opportunity to play again is an awesome thing. All of our kids are excited to be a part of that team."
This is now Huntsville's second trip to the state tournament, which has been a thing for two years. Last year, they faced off against Converse Judson in the title match and things can shape up to be the same way again.
Huntsville received the automatic bye as only three teams qualified for the state tournament. They will face the winner of Converses Judson and Hutto on Monday.
Hutto and Judson are scheduled to tip off around 4:30 with the championship game set for 6 p.m. at Churchill High School in San Antonio.
"It's just a testament of what we are doing is right and we have everything going in the right direction," Elliott said. "I just want to see these kids be successful and success is different for each one of us, but they are having fun. I see the kids maturing as the season goes on and we are excited to be back there."