I’m not a sports writer, but have been a sports writer’s “widow” for years now–ever since my husband discovered the Sandra Meadows Memorial Classic. We started planning our December road trips and family get-togethers so he wouldn’t miss the tournament, held Dec. 28-30 each year at Duncanville High School. Curiosity finally got the better of me this year, and I begged to tag along and contribute some sideline features.
Much to my surprise, I was hooked. After only a few hours, and talking to a few people, I began to realize what a Really Big Event the 72-year-old tournament is for the community. Duncanville City Councilman and past Lions Club President Don McBurnett, who attended Duncanville HS in the late ‘70s, says the Lions Club has been a sponsor of the event the past 17 years.
Like his father before him and many others, McBurnett said he wouldn’t dream of missing this holiday tradition. He said the invitational Sandra Meadows Classic brings together the best talent in girl’s basketball, not just from Texas but from across the country. It also serves as a mini-alumni reunion, since so many former students and their families return each year for the tournament.
Sandra Meadows Tournament Director
Tournament Director Steve Martin said “The great tradition of the Sandra Meadows Tournament has become synonymous with the holiday season…(and) families have made girls basketball a tradition in their lives and memories made on the courts here in Duncanville will be in their hearts and minds forever.”
Martin, who is also President of the Duncanville Chamber of Commerce, said he realized the importance of the tournament when he was courting his future wife, Duncanville ISD trustee Janice Savage-Martin. A former Pantherette, Janice played for legendary Coach Sandra Meadows in 1968-’69, and wouldn’t dream of missing the Sandra Meadows Classic. She still assists her husband with the tournament, sponsored by the Chamber, the City of Duncanville, the Lions Club, and Duncanville ISD.
Another former Pantherette, Ariel Atkins, who graduated from DHS in 2014, has achieved great success in women’s basketball. She was a collegiate star at the University of Texas in Austin (2014-’18). After being drafted as a professional basketball player for the WNBA Washington Mystics, she also made the 2021 USA Olympics Team. Seeing a superstar athlete like Atkins at the tournament, interacting with the teams of today, is energizing for those girls who hope to follow in her footsteps.
Former Pantherette Jalie Mitchell
I especially enjoyed meeting Jalie Mitchell, another classy former Pantherette who found great success as a standout player for the University of North Texas at Denton (UNT) from 1998-2002. Mitchell is now the head coach of the UNT Women’s Basketball program.
It’s so rewarding to see these dedicated former players, who continue to attend the Sandra Meadows Memorial Classic. These successful young women encourage today’s players to continue the tradition of excellence established by the legendary Coach Meadows before she died ten years ago.
The Sandra Meadows Classic is one of the largest, longest-running, and most prestigious high school girl’s basketball tournaments in the country. The Duncanville HS Pantherettes won the state’s first girl’s basketball tournament in 1951. The SWAAU tournament was held in the Automobile Bldg. at Fair Park. The Pantherettes have won 25 tournament titles, including the last two tournaments in 2019 and 2021.
Watch for more game coverage, with photos by John Askew and game coverage by Durhl Caussey, about the 71st annual Sandra Meadows Classic in next Sunday’s edition.