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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Three local teams dominate Tennison tournament


Last updated 12/12/2023 at 10:38am

The Orangefield Bobcats went 5-0 to win the championship of the Bill Tennison Tournament

The annual Bill Tennison Memorial Tournament was held the second weekend in December at the Orangefield High School and Junior High Gymnasiums. Three Orange County teams finished one, two, and three over the three days of exciting basketball games.

The host team Orangefield won all five of its games to be the tournament champions. Bridge City's only loss was a thrilling contest to Orangefield in the final game on Saturday to finish in second place, and West Orange-Stark lost to Bridge City on Friday, but won on Saturday to grab third place.

The five victories by the Orangefield Bobcats concluded with what amounted to a Bayou Bowl of basketball against their across the bayou rivals the Bridge City Cardinals. The Bobcats trailed the Cardinals through most of the game before rallying in the fourth quarter to capture a 66-61 win.

Bridge City was led by Aaden Bush who started the game hitting two three-pointers. The Cardinals jumped to a 20-13 lead in the first quarter.

The advantage got to ten points 31-21 for the Cardinals when Stephen Stone sank a three midway through the second period. Orangefield got a three from Kane Smith and the last bucket of the half from Zane Wrinkle to narrow the gap to three points 32-29 as the teams went to their locker rooms.

The Bobcats carried the momentum into the third quarter as Jaden Scales made a basket before Kadyn Rucker made his only points of the afternoon to give Orangefield its first lead 33-32. Bridge City went back ahead as Lincoln Breaux scored the next five points including a field goal and a free throw for a three-point play to make the score 37-33.

Jagger Carlin of the Cardinals put them up 41-34 with a basket. Mason Manning started a run for the Bobcats hitting a three-pointer from just in front of a large contingent of Bridge City students in the stands that razzed him as he took the shot.

Wrinkle of the Bobcats made two free throws and then nailed a three to put Orangefield on top 44-43 just before Bush of the Cardinals swished home his third trey of the day to give Bridge City a two-point lead. Wrinkle tied the score with a field goal, but Stone beat the buzzer with a dramatic long shot to give the Cardinals a 49-46 lead after three quarters.

Zane wrinkled the twine with a three to begin the fourth quarter that tied the score, and Griffin Thomas followed with a two to give the Bobcats a 51-49 lead. Scales potted a free throw and a bucket as Orangefield opened up a five-point advantage before Bridge City could answer in the opening minutes of the final eight minutes.

The Cardinals cut the deficit to two as Carlin drained a three pointer which was answered by a three from Smith of the Bobcats. Aiden Gutierrez sank a field goal and Carlin made two free throws to pull Bridge City within a point at 59-58, but Thomas scored again for Orangefield to pad the advantage to three points.

Orangefield hung to the slim lead and got late free throws from Wrinkle to win by five points. "This group of Bobcats is really resilient. I'm proud of them because they continued to battle. Bridge City's a really good team, they're playing really well and they made it really tough on us. I'm just happy our kids stayed the course, we finally got it going to make a run ourselves, and we were able to come out on top," Orangefield Coach Bryan Whitmire responded after the game.

Four Bobcats scored in double figures. Jaden Scales led with 18, Griffin Thomas tallied 16, Zane Wrinkle had 14, and Kane Smith followed with 13 points.

The Cardinals only suited eight players for the game so may have been a little fatigued by the latter part of the fourth quarter. Aaden Bush scored 17 points to lead Bridge City in scoring, Jagger Carlin made 16 points, and Lincoln Breaux registered 13 points.

The Bridge City Cardinals won their first four games of the tournament all by double digits. The Cardinals won the first three at the junior high gym over Buna, La Marque, and Onalaska before earning the spot in the championship game with a 61-47 triumph over the West Orange-Stark Mustangs at the high school gymnasium on Friday afternoon.

The Mustangs came out of the gate fast taking a 3-0 lead after a field goal by Jamikael Davis. Nursing sore ankles that kept him out of action on Thursday and Saturday, Davis totaled six points in the first quarter to put West Orange-Stark on top 11-7 after the first eight minutes.

A strong second quarter put the Cardinals in front to stay. Aaden Bush scored seven points, Bryce Linder added six points, and Jagger Carlin hit a three as Bridge City outscored West Orange-Stark 17-7 in the period to take a 24-18 lead at the half.

Aiden Gutierrez popped two three-pointers early in the third quarter for the Cardinals, and Bush matched his second quarter output with another seven points. Lincoln Breaux chipped in with a field goal and two free throws to give Bridge City a 44-33 lead with a quarter to play.

The advantage stayed with the Cardinals in the final quarter as Bush banged home four field goals. Gutierrez got his third three-pointer of the game to help secure the fourteen-point win.

The high scorer in the game was Aaden Bush who totaled 22 points for the Cardinals. Aiden Gutierrez was second with 14 and Bryce Linder made 13 points for Bridge City. Eleven Mustangs got in the scorebook led by Jamikael Davis with 8 and Tahj Amerson with 7 points.

Coach Randall Robertson of Bridge City commented on the play of his Cardinals after the win. "We're playing pretty good right now, we've won ten of our last eleven. We won the Evadale Tournament and went to overtime at PNG the other night in a hostile environment which was a good game for us. The Cardinals are buying in and we're winning games in the third quarter which I always preach is the most important part of the game," Robertson exclaimed.

West Orange-Stark played the very first game of the Tennison Tournament and won an overtime game 69-58 against Evadale rallying from five points down to tie the game in the fourth quarter before dominating the extra period 11-0 to get the win. Andrew Cooper led the Mustangs with 18 points.

After the loss to Bridge City on Friday WOS faced the La Marque Cougars on Saturday in the third place game. La Marque won both of the first two quarters and led 25-18 at the half.

The third quarter proved to be the turn around for the Mustangs. Jamar O'Neal hit a three early to get the momentum rolling in their favor and Ja'Vaughnte Richard hit a three followed by a two from Braylen Solomon to tie the score 32-32 late in the quarter.

O'Neal opened the final quarter with a bucket which started an eleven point run by the Mustangs that saw them go up 43-34 after which they never trailed. Jamar scored half his points in the fourth to help ice the 53-43 win for West Orange-Stark.

Ja'Vaughnte Richard topped the Mustangs with 17 points. Jamar O'Neal finished with 14 points for WOS.

Coach Chris Castille said the Mustangs are rolling with the start of district action this week. "It's the second tournament in a row we got third place. We are getting better each time. I am really proud of my boys because they are always fighting. We are still going up, we have not reached our peak yet, and we are not close to it, but we are getting there," Castille emphasized.

The trip to the championship game for Orangefield was hardly an easy walk over. The Bobcats won their first two games on Thursday handily, but the competition got tougher on Friday for the home team.

Evadale gave Orangefield a scare with an eleven point half time lead before the Bobcats cut it to three going into the fourth quarter. Jaden Scales tied the game with a basket before Zane Wrinkle gave them the lead 58-55 hitting a three with ninety seconds left in the fourth.

In the final minute Orangefield had two opportunities to ice the game and go up by four points with free throws. The Bobcats missed three out of four free throws, but Garret Rawls grabbed two huge rebounds after misses to keep Orangefield in possession of the basketball.

Wrinkle made his last two free throws to put the Bobcats up by four with seconds left. Evadale scored at the buzzer to make the final score 62-60 in favor of Orangefield.

Leading the Bobcats was Jaden Scales with 19 points followed by Zane Wrinkle with 17. Griffin Thomas had 13 and Kane Smith contributed 9 points to the exciting victory.

Things got even tighter for Orangefield against La Marque in the late Friday game which would put the winner in the championship game the next day. The Bobcats trailed by ten points with ninety seconds left in the game.

Jaden Scales nailed a three-pointer and Zane Wrinkle made two layups to cut the deficit to three with twenty seconds left. A La Marque turnover got the ball back into the Bobcats' hands, and Scales hit a tying three that sent the home town fans through the roof with their ecstasy.

Orangefield rode the momentum from the dramatic comeback into the overtime. The Bobcats won 46-40 to earn their place in the championship game.

Zane Wrinkle finished the game with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. In addition to Jaden Scales' dramatic three which gave him 12 points he made 6 rebounds and had 2 assists.

The West Orange-Stark Mustangs grabbed third place at Orangefield in the Bill Tennison Tournament

The Bill Tennison Tournament has prepared Orangefield for the start of district games this week. Coach Whitmire elaborated, "Really the goal is try to continue to get better every game, and we're trying to get ready for district, so I think this tournament absolutely did it by putting us in tough spots and close games which is where we learn and get better. We've got a ton of experience over the last two tournaments and I think it's made us much better."

The Orangefield Bobcats opened the district schedule on Tuesday at Buna. Their next district game will be Tuesday, January 2, at Orangefield.

The Bridge City Cardinals begin district action on Friday at Silsbee. The Cardinals play the Little Cypress Mauriceville Bears on Tuesday, January 2, in Bridge City.

The West Orange-Stark Mustangs play their first district game at home against the Vidor Pirates this Friday. After the Christmas holiday the Mustangs will play Tuesday, January 2, at Lumberton.


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