Sandra Meadows Classic Triumphs: Duncanville Unites for 73rd Annual Girls Varsity Basketball Tournament

Meadows Classic tournament winners
Pantherette coaches and team with Meadows Classic Trophy, photo by Paul Miranda

Article Contributed by Jo Ann Holt and Durhl Caussey

The Sandra Meadows Classic Girls Varsity Basketball Tournament is a team effort, sponsored by the City of Duncanville, the Duncanville Lions Club, and Duncanville ISD each December for the past 18 years. The community supports the three-day tournament by buying tickets, sponsoring ads, and volunteering to assist the tournament’s energetic director, Chamber President/CEO Steve Martin. The prestigious tournament brings girls’ basketball teams, coaches, and scouts from across the USA to Duncanville. It takes a dedicated team working year-round to ensure its success.

Meadows Classic Tournament Director

Meadows Classic Director
Director Steve Martin photo by Holt

Martin became the girls’ basketball tournament director in 2018. The tournament (formerly the SWAAU Tournament) was renamed the Sandra Meadows Classic to honor the legendary Pantherette Coach who died in 1994. This year’s Meadows Classic was held Dec. 28-29-30 in the Sandra Meadows Memorial Arena at Duncanville High School.

Coach is agitated
Coach Ford photo by Don McBurnett

The Duncanville Pantherette team, now coached by Neiman Ford (former boys basketball coach), was the team to beat in this year’s tournament. His assistant coaches, shown in the featured photo, include Ron Amboree, Kiara Perry, and Tyler Thompson. The Pantherettes won the tournament after defeating the Wampus Cats from Conway, Arkansas. The Cats were ahead by one point (9-8) at the end of the first quarter. But at halftime the score was 24 to 9 in favor of the Pantherette team, and the final score was 62-22.

Meadows Classic top Award winning coaches
Conway Coach with Duncanville Coach Ford , photo courtesy Paul Miranda

Stressful Moments at Meadows Classic

While the 2023 tournament was quite successful, there were a few stressful moments behind the scenes as well as on the court. The following is an excerpt from Meadows Classic Director Steve Martin’s Dec. 31 FB post:

“Thank you Lord for another great Sandra Meadows Classic Girls Varsity Basketball tournament. This was no doubt the most challenging tournament in my 18 years, but it was a success. I was in A-fib all day on Thursday but went to the hospital on Friday morning to be shocked back into rhythm. It was quick, and I was back at the Arena by noon. I couldn’t have made it without great volunteers and workers. Special thanks to Steve Davis, Don McBurnett, Michael Chrietzberg, and Stan Smith.”

Lions Club volunteers
Lions Club volunteers photo by Holt

The invitational girls basketball tournament drew 32 teams from around the country to play in Duncanville. Another stressful incident for Martin and his colleagues happened during the final afternoon of the tournament. The McEachren, GA team that was scheduled to play Frisco Liberty for the third place trophy called to cancel. They told Martin their flight arrangements were faulty, forcing them to leave before that game, and it would cost thousands of dollars to change them.

Duncanville Lions Club Volunteers

Meadows Classic volunteers in ticket booth
L-R Steve Davis, Mike Chrietzberg, Vance Newland, Don McBurnett; photo by Holt

Focus Daily News talked to several of the Lions Club volunteers mentioned by Martin in his FB post. They included former Duncanville HS Principal and district administrator Mike Chrietzberg. During his years as DHS Principal, Chrietzberg led the school through the 2002-2005 construction project that resulted in their becoming the second largest high school under one roof in the U.S.

Named Duncanville’s Man of the Year in 2012, Chrietzberg has served as a tournament volunteer with other Duncanville Lions Club members for 11 years. A past president of the service organization, he is currently President of the Duncanville Noon Lions Club Scholarship & Educational Grants Foundation. The foundation provides Educational Grants to graduating seniors from DHS.

The 2022 Lions Club scholarship recipients were Leslie Benitez, Saairan Cano-Espinoza, Abril Dominguez-Baca, Sophia Gonzalez, Natalia Hernandez, Kyla Johnson, Aidan Kelly, Christy Luong, and Kennadi St. Clair.

Mike Chrietzberg by DHS Trophy Case, Holt photo

Chrietzberg said one of his favorite Meadows Classic tournament memories was meeting former Dallas Cowboy great Tony Dorsett. That happened when Dorsett’s daughter, Mia, played in the tournament for the Plano West HS Varsity Girls Basketball team. One of the major benefits of the tournament, Chrietzberg said, is that it brings hundreds of visitors to our city and our school district.