Yoemen, Lady Yoe break even at Christmas Classic

The Diamond Valley Eagles of Australia celebrate after winning the girls championship at the Christmas Classic.  Photo by Peter Steven

This past week, 22 teams from across Central Texas and two from Australia traveled to Cameron to compete in the 19th annual Chamber of Commerce Christmas Classic basketball tournament.


Play began at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning and ended on Wednesday night after the culmination of 98 games over the two days.


Cameron teams had high and low moments as each managed to break even at 2-2 in the final non-district action of the year.




Cameron went 1-1 on day one the tournament, easily coasting by Bartlett (58-18) before falling to 5A Marble Falls (54-45) in the nightcap.


The Yoemen fell behind 6-0 to Bartlett in the first, but went on a 58-12 run to close out the game. A larger reason for the dominant stretch was the full-court press, which the Yoemen put on to begin the second. Cameron forced 35 turnovers while only committing 13.


“They were overwhelmed,” said Yoemen coach Ed Glendening. “We got to play everybody and got some looks. I thought we missed a lot of easy shots in both games today, and that is normal after break. It’s going to happen when you take six days off. Not any team shot the ball well here today and that is normal.”


Danny Perez finished with 16 points while LaRondre Booze, Sicory Smith, Levi May and Kevondre Wesley were all tied for second with six points.


In the loss to Marble Falls the Yoemen started slow out of the gate again, trailing 17-7 after one quarter. Booze had 10 points inside in the second to help jumpstart the offense, but the early deficit was too much to overcome against a much larger 5A school. .


“Dre played really well, but I didn’t feel like the rest of starters did a real good job and we didn’t get any energy off the bench,” said Glendening, who added that his team had to get back to team basketball to find success.


The sting from the loss in day one carried over to day two as the Yoemen suffered a 58-45 defeat to Smithville in the opening game of the silver bracket.


The theme of slow starts continued as the Yoemen fell behind 21-9 after one, and could never draw any closer than that 11-point margin from that point forward.


“We just had poor starts,” said Glendening. “In all the games we were getting down by 10 or 15 points and then winning the other three quarters. We don’t need to panic, we just need to fix it.”


The early offensive execution finally came through against Caldwell with a 24-point outburst in the first en route to a 75-59 win. This was the fourth time these two have played this season, with the Yoemen now holding the 3-1 advantage.


Cameron managed to get quality looks inside as Wesley had nine points in the first while Levi May (12 points) and Booze (14 points) posted big second halves inside the paint. Cameron was dynamic with their offense as Danny Perez hit a trio of three-point shots in the second period.


Glendening pointed out that finding the right lineup has taken time, but the right combinations are starting to become clearer.


“We have shifted our lineup around. This is our fifth starting lineup in five games. We are trying to find the right combination, and I think we have found the lineup that we need.”


Lady Yoe


Despite dealing with injuries heading into last week’s tournament, Corey Cunningham and the Lady Yoe found a way to finish day one of the tournament at 2-0.


Play opened with an overtime win over Elgin, 59-56. Cameron scored 16 points in the first, but trailed after one period of play, 20-16. Lady Wildcat guard Rebekah Prinz hit multiple three-point shots early and ended with a team-high 17 point.


“After the first quarter when Elgin hung 20 on us I told the girls they can’t keep shooting that way the whole game, so stay with them and keep fighting,” said Cunningham.


Guards NaQuiria Gibbons and Marquazia Workman played a major role in Cameron coming back to take a 28-25 lead into the half. The juniors combined for 25 of the team’s 28 points in the first 16 minutes of play.


The game eventually went into overtime where Gibbons’ fast break layups and seven points off of turnovers put Cameron over the top.


In the second game with Palestine Westwood, Cameron was up 19-4 after one and 25-8 after two before holding off a late surge to win, 41-37.


The ladies had a more balanced offensive attack as Terry Adams had 11, Lauryn Leftwich and Workman came in with nine, and Gibbons scored eight.


The 2-0 record set Cameron up in the gold bracket for Wednesday where they would open up with the West Trojanettes. Cameron only trailed 14-11 after one but could not keep pace and fell, 54-40.


Gibbons scored in every quarter and finished with 23 points before going out with a leg injury late in the game. Leftwich pitched in with eight points and six total rebounds.


Down to just 7 active players on the roster, Cameron drew McGregor in the third place game. Once again, Cameron trailed early on but managed to stay competitive in a 50-39 loss.


“The first game we were one starter out to begin with and then we lost Gibbons in the fourth quarter. To start the second game, we were down those two starters right off the bat and we lost a third one in the fourth quarter,” said Cunningham, who added that he was proud of his team to continue fighting despite the losses in players.


Workman hit four three-point shots in the first half and finished the game with 21 points.


“Qua was big for us in that game,” said Cunningham. “Number one, she was able to break the press and then number two she became a scorer for us. We needed someone to step up for us with the points that were sitting on the bench.”


Leftwich had seven points. Brianna Collier came in with four.


Championship Games


The girls championship game featured the Diamond Valley Eagles (Australia) and West. The Australian’s took home the championship with a 57-34 win and finished a perfect 4-0. Marble Falls and Snook squared off in the boy’s championship. Marble Falls (4-0) pulled away late, 50-43, to capture first place.