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Saturday, Dec. 28 wrapped up Whataburger’s 56th annual three-day basketball tournament. Thursday, Dec. 26 through Saturday, Dec. 28, teams from all across Texas as well as two out-of-state teams tested their skills against top-ranked competition in what Sports Illustrated and USA Today have called one of the nation’s top holiday high school tournaments.

The tournament brackets featured 48 boys’ and girls’ teams competing to be hailed as one of the best high school teams in the nation. In the high-powered Orange Division, South Grand Prairie High School claimed the honor of calling themselves champions, taking home the storied division’s first-place trophy. Kennedale High School won the Blue Boys’ Division first-place trophy and Argyle High School won the tournament’s Blue Girls’ Division first-place trophy. For the third year in a row, Whataburger continued their tradition of awarding each of the three winning teams with a $500 scholarship for their school.

“The players’ level of talent and discipline was really impressive in one of the most exciting tournaments to date,“ Whataburger Director of Operations Kelvin Buggs said. “Although each team gave their best effort, three champions were crowned, and Whataburger is honored to present them with these trophies and scholarships.” 

More than 30,000 fans and spectators attended the tournament, which took place at Birdville Independent School District’s W.G. Thomas Coliseum, Chisholm Trail High School and Saginaw High School. 

Although three teams went home with trophies, each of the teams received a unique opportunity to experience the tournament atmosphere.

In attendance at the tournament are coaches from colleges and universities across the nation to scope out top talent. Several players who have participated in the tournament have gone on to professional careers in the NBA and NFL. Notable past players include Rashard Lewis, an Alief Elsik alumnus from Houston who currently plays for the Miami Heat, Danny Ferry who spent the majority of his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers and is now the general manager of the Atlanta Hawks and Sam Cassell, the assistant coach for the Washington Wizards.

The tournament began in 1957 with only eight teams competing. Originally, the tournament was a small fundraiser for Fort Worth’s West Side chapter of the Lions Club; today more than 15,000 high school athletes have competed in the nationally-renowned tournament. 

Story and image courtesy of Jenny Gregorcyk