Silsbee Goes for Winning streak

When severe winter weather hindered two teams — one from California and the other from New York — from making it to the King Cotton Holiday Classic, it changed the format of the Creed Bracket.

It did not change a southeast Texas team’s goal — to go 3-0.

Silsbee (Texas) went unbeaten in pool play-style, beating Mills University Studies, Windermere (Fla.) and White Hall all by single-digit margins. The Tigers (10-6), a 4A team in the six-class University Interscholastic League, are back with two of their leaders from last season looking to extend a winning streak in Pine Bluff before resuming district play.

“You’re going to get some of the best competition you can find,” Silsbee coach Joe Sigler said. “That’s what any coach is looking for. Any game you play, no matter what the size of school, you’re going to get quality games, and at this point that’s what you’re looking for in the tournament heading into district or conference play.” Silsbee guard Jared Harris is a 6-foot-2 four-star player committed to the University of Memphis, so he’s taking advantage of another early opportunity to shine in the MidSouth. Harris has boosted his scoring average from last season by more than 4 points per game to 22.8, while throwing in 5.2 and 4.4 steals.

Harris will play alongside senior classmate and fellow guard Dre’lon Miller, a 6-foot-2 recent football signee with the University of Colorado (as a wide receiver) who will make his basketball season debut at King Cotton. Miller had 30 points in last year’s win over White Hall that sealed the Creed title for Silsbee.

“We’re going to try to not throw him into the water, although he will be fine,” Sigler said. “He’s coming off an injury there, and he’s had to rehab that a little bit, but he’s been practicing very well. I’m not expecting anything less than his best. This is his fourth year on the varsity. He’s done very well every year. I’m not worried about him not being able to compete.” Harris is also a fourth-year varsity player.

Silsbee is based 20 miles north of Beaumont in a metropolitan area that has produced five state championship teams since 2016, with Sigler’s teams winning back-to-back titles in 2017-18. Beaumont United, last year’s King Bracket champion, won two straight before a runner-up finish last March, and Port Arthur Memorial added a title in 2018, just months after Hurricane Harvey devastated the city and surrounding areas.

Silsbee has won 7 of 8 games coming into King Cotton, knocking off programs from bigger schools like Memorial, Aldine (1994 King Cotton participant) and Fort Bend Willowridge. The Tigers’ lone loss during that stretch was to United, 78-68.

Those games weren’t always played with a full roster.

“Having the number of guys come off the football field, they called us Silsbee Lite,” Sigler said. “When football is going on, I’m not taking anything away from the other schools. They’ve got good programs, but we might have won a few more games had we been full force, but we’re real pleased with where we are.” The 27th-year head coach likes a tough challenge, which has paid off with a 2-0 start to district play this season.

“I think every coach is concerned with getting his team to compete at a high level,” he said. “This tournament is definitely going to show some things and get us exposed in some areas we need to see, instead of just sitting around for the holidays. We get to play some high-level basketball.”


NOTE: Schedule for Thursday and Friday games to be determined; times subject to change 10 a.m.: Benton vs. McDonough (Ga.) 11:30 a.m.: Pinson Valley (Ala.) vs. Silsbee (Texas) 1 p.m.: White Hall vs. Sandy Creek (Tyrone, Ga.) 2:30 p.m.: Little Rock Christian Academy vs. Westminster Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 4 p.m.: Gonzaga College HS (Washington, D.C.) vs. St. Joseph Santa Maria (Calif.) 5:30 p.m.: St. Francis Academy (Baltimore) vs. Booker T. Washington (Houston) 7 p.m.: Pine Bluff vs. Duncanville (Texas) 8:45 p.m.: Little Rock Central vs. Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)