Whataburger Tournament

Whatatournament.

When one of the nation's most prestigious Christmas-time tournaments kicks off next week — the 62nd annual Whataburger Tournament — five Denton-area teams will be showcasing their ability on a significant stage.

The Guyer boys are in the big-school Orange Division at Mansfield High School and Argyle and Ponder boys are in small-school Blue Division at Chisholm Trail High School. 

Liberty Christian and Ponder are in the lone girls bracket at Saginaw High School.

Many of the state's — and some of the country's — most tradition-rich programs and most talented players will be looking to test their mettle in a precursor to their respective state tournaments.

Here's a look at the Dec. 28 first-round games that will be streamed on Baller.tv, and be sure to check out the Denton Record-Chronicle's coverage.

Guyer (17-2) vs. Richardson (14-1), 4 p.m.

Talk about a showcase game. Richardson — ranked No. 11 in the country in the latest MaxPreps poll — is stocked with Division I talent, led by Kentucky signee guard Cason Wallace. But Guyer has a four-star recruit of its own in spring-heeled forward KyeRon Lindsay, who leads a balanced Wildcats team with talent well beyond their UNLV recruit.

“There’s going to be a lot of emotion going into that game,” Lindsay said. “A lot of pressure, a lot of intensity, so I think it’s going to be a big game. Especially for us to be on a big stage. Everybody is going to see that we should be ranked higher than we are.”

Argyle (10-5) vs. Diboll (6-2), 1 p.m

The defending 4A champion Eagles — led by Eli Valentino, Hutch Burns and Wayne Pritts — take on a talented and experienced Diboll team that returns the bulk its talent from last year's 19-2 squad, including district MVP Jacoby Fox and Offensive Player of the Year guard Percy Chavis.

Ponder (15-1) vs. Brock (13-5), 5:30 p.m.

Tyler Long and Hayes Hutcherson have the high-scoring Lions off to nice start. They welcome a formidable challenge from 3A power Brock, which made a deep in last year's state tournament. Nathan Jones, a Minnesota football recruit, is among Brock's proven returners.

Liberty Christian girls (8-4) vs. Nazareth (10-8), 10 a.m.

Nazareth, a storied Amarillo-area program that has won four of the last five 1A state titles, takes on a talent-stocked Liberty Christian. The Argyle school had five underclassmen earn all-district honors last season, including Colorado State commit Jadyn Fife.

Ponder girls (8-9) vs. Bridgeport (14-6), 8:30 p.m.

Three Ponder players have already committed to small colleges, including Tate Wells (Harding), Karly Ivy (Mississippi Colllege) and Kassi Ballard (Bethany). The Lions, who played a tough nonconference schedule, could face a nice test from a Bridgeport team that also made a nice 3A tournament run last year.

RYAN COLLINGWOOD can be reached at 940-566-6869 and on Twitter at @sports_drc.

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