Basketball's Texas Invitational attracts 84 schools
From its humble beginnings 12 years ago, the Texas Invitational basketball tournament has grown into one of the largest and most prestigious events of its kind.
Tipping off today at 11 locations, the 2010 Texas Invitational will feature 48 boys teams and 36 girls entries competing in two divisions each. Four champions will be crowned on Saturday.
The state-wide field has come a long way from the initial tournament, which saw 15 area boys teams play for one title.
Behind the scenes
Putting on the Texas Invitational has grown into a year-round endeavor, complete with a steering committee, 115 sponsors and a number of volunteers.
"We try to put on a first- class tournament," steering committee chairman Ben Meador said. "Coaches know that when they come here, they are going to be treated right."
As the tournament has grown, so has the level of competition. The Class 5A boys and girls state champions from the last three years all played in the Texas Invitational.
That trend continues in 2010 with the Bush boys and Cy-Fair girls entered.
Tournament organizers have made it easy on out-of- town entries by taking care of lodging and providing free breakfast and laundry services for the teams.
This year's visiting field includes perennial powers Austin Westlake, DeSoto, Converse Judson, San Antonio Taft, North Crowley and Mansfield Summit.
"What I look for is good programs," Meador said. "I look at the coach's record, how many college scholarships have been obtained and whether the players are going to act like student-athletes should."
While fans will be treated to some of the best basketball competition in the state, the local community and Pasadena School District also will benefit.
All profits from the tournament go to the Pasadena Education Foundation, which provides student aid and grants. Approximately $525,000 has been raised over the past seven years.
Hefty economic impact
Meador expects overall attendance to exceed 40,000 this weekend. An economic study conducted last year found the tournament brought $1.5 million to the Pasadena area.
The boys Division I final, scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at Phillips Field House, will be streamed live on Fox- SportsHouston.com.
The Division I girls championship game is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Pasadena Memorial High School.
"We always look for ways to get better," Meador said. "Next year, we are looking to get the championship game live on the Fox sports channel."
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