Dec. 31—Muenster's basketball teams represented their school well, finishing as runners-up in both the boys' and girls' brackets in the Cooke County Holiday Classic at Callisburg.
The Muenster boys (12-6) started 3-0 Wednesday and Thursday before losing a heartbreaking championship game 45-44 to Fort Worth Trinity Valley.
The No. 23 Muenster girls (16-6) also started perfect before calling 41-37 to No. 2 Nocona.
The boys' championship game finished in wild fashion. After trailing the entire second half, Muenster took a 41-40 lead thanks to a 3-pointer by junior Seth Stoffels. Trinity Valley senior Eli Looney answered right away with a 3-pointer of his own.
With 12.2 to play, Trinity Valley had the ball coming out of a timeout with a 43-42 lead. The Hornets had just four team fouls, so it was going to be challenging to get the Trojans to the free throw line with any time left.
Muenster got the special play it needed when senior Madix Franklin stole the inbounds pass and laid it in to put the Hornets ahead, but Trinity Valley ran the floor and hit a jumper at the buzzer to win the tournament. The Hornets believed they had drawn a charge, but the officials ruled no foul was committed, thus the game-winner for the Trojans counted.
Hornets coach Kyle Cavitt said his players fought to the end.
"That just speaks volumes to the character of my kids," Cavitt said. "There's no quit in them. They do anything that I ask them to do. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to be able to coach. I'm very fortunate to be where I'm at, and I love those guys. I love the way that they battle."
The girls' championship wasn't quite as dramatic but nonetheless entertaining. The Lady Hornets led 20-11 late in the second quarter against one of the elites in Class 2A. Nocona sophomore Megyn Meekins, who went on to win tournament MVP, beat the halftime buzzer with a long 3-pointer, cutting the lead to 20-14 at halftime.
The Lady Indians started the second half with a 10-0 run to take the lead. They led 30-24 after the third quarter following a 19-4 run started by the buzzer-beater.
The Lady Hornets fought back, and junior Maggie Hess hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 34.
Nocona retook the lead afterward and held it until the end, despite a 3-pointer with 11 seconds to go by Muenster junior Brooke Tyler.
Lady Hornets coach Chris Hightower said Meekins is probably the best player in the state in 2A, and she made the difference in the game. He said his team played great against the Lady Indians despite the result.
"I think (Muenster senior) Brooklyn Duncan is one of the best defenders in our classification, especially in our region, definitely in our district," Hightower said. "I thought she handled (Meekins) about as good as she possibly could, but Megyn is that kind of player. I was hoping that maybe we could kind of cancel elite defender with elite player, we could kind of cancel it out. Brooklyn did a good job."
The Hornets began the week with a 45-36 win against the Red River Rattlers, then knocked off an upset-minded Valley View team 39-32. In the semifinals, Muenster defeated Sanger, which finished third overall, 36-31 despite trailing 22-12 at halftime.
Cavitt said his players are starting to play tougher defense, something he has preached since the start of the season.
"We feel like as long as we're playing hard, as long as we're getting after it on the defensive end, that we're going to be able to stay in every game," Cavitt said. "We just gotta find a way to be more consistent offensively, find some guys that can put the ball in the hole, be able to finish and some stuff like that. But hat's off to them, man. That's a really good basketball team, and they played a great game."
The Lady Hornets' path to the championship game began with an impressive 65-4 win against Pilot Point, then a 53-35 victory against Pampa. Muenster beat Howe 39-26 in the semifinals, a Lady Bulldogs squad which went on to finish third after beating S&S.
Hightower said the week went great overall.
"Pampa was a really good game for us," Hightower said. "I thought we did a great job against them, and then of course, Nocona. We handled business. We did a great job, and I thought it was a great tournament for us."