HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Permian boys getting ready for Tall City Oilman’s Tournament

This week, the Permian boys basketball team will continue its slate of tournaments before starting district play.

The Panthers won’t have to travel far this time as Permian returns to compete in the annual Tall City Oilman’s Tournament in Midland.

Permian will begin the tournament with a 4 p.m. Thursday game against Lubbock-Cooper at Midland Legacy High School.

The Panthers will come back early the next day for a 10 a.m. contest against Amarillo Caprock before ending the day against El Paso Burges at 3 p.m. with both games also at Legacy.

Permian head coach Steven Flores is hopeful that the Panthers can use this week’s tournament to get better with District 2-6A play set to start right after the Christmas break.

“We’re excited to play in it,” Flores said. “We’re looking forward to seeing how much we can improve because right now, we’re a young basketball team. We’ve hit some bumps on the road. We’re looking to get better each day. … We want to get better throughout these next couple of games.”

Like every other team, the Panthers (4-6) are coming off a tournament performance from this past weekend as Permian competed in San Angelo.

The Panthers ended up going 2-2 in last week’s tournament which included a 62-51 win over Brandeis in the first game, followed by an 80-48 win over El Paso Ysleta in the second contest.

Permian then dropped its next two games, as the Panthers were dealt a 68-62 loss to Caddo Mills and then a 52-37 defeat to El Paso Americas.

“I thought we played hard for the most part,” Flores said of last week’s tournament. “We had three out of four games where I liked our intensity. I liked our grit. We were being tough. We preach being tough both mentally and physically on the court. I thought in the last game, we didn’t do that. We have to fight through the pains because in basketball, everyone’s going to be tired. Everyone’s going to have dead legs because there are so many tournament games going on right now. But you have to be mentally tough because it all starts mentally and then physically. We build our program on being mentally and physically tough. We have to get better at that aspect.”

For the Panthers, it’s been a little bit of a rebuilding season with only two starters (Ben Saldivar and Ryale Moses) back from last season’s area playoff round appearance.

“We’ve been using these tournaments just to get better because we have a young group,” Flores said. “We have to focus on getting better. We have to make sure we’re making steps towards getting a chance at a district title. We want to be the best team in West Texas. Therefore, we have to work like it every single day.”

Flores said the effort from his team has been there as the biggest factors for the Panthers have been making shots and limiting turnovers.

“We’re playing hard,” Flores said. “We just have to get better with the little things. We have to shoot the ball better. We’ve gotten off to a rough start with shooting the ball but as I’ve told the players, shooting the ball better just comes with practicing in the gym and putting up as many shots as you need to get better. If we can start hitting shots and cut down on turnovers, then I think we’ll be fine.”

The Panthers know they’ll be facing some tough teams this week in Midland.

“I saw (Lubbock-Cooper) at San Angelo,” Flores said. “They look like a good, solid team. They have a couple of guys who are good athletes and can shoot the ball. We’ll have to play really tough. We’re going to have to follow our defensive game plan in order to beat them. I think we can. That’s the mindset we’re taking. El Paso Burges, we played them last year. They had two good sophomores last year so that’ll be a good test for us as well.”

Permian will also compete at the Allen Invitational in Allen from Dec. 27-29 which Flores said will offer a good chance for the Panthers to see some more competition from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“We play this tournament Midland and then we have a tournament in Allen where we usually face great competition,” Flores said. “We want to get better up to the point where we’re at when we play the metroplex teams.”

So far, Permian has only faced one school from the metroplex this season as the Panthers defeated Euless Trinity in a 60-44 contest back on Nov. 21.

“We were fortunate to beat them,” Flores said. “They have good athletes on their team. It was a good win for us. Right now, we just have to work to get better each day and get better as an overall team.”