Migs Mercado and the Sardis Falcons will spend the week of Christmas in Lubbock, Texas.

Migs Mercado and the Sardis Falcons will spend the week of Christmas in Lubbock, Texas.

Sardis basketball Falcons taking Christmas trip to Texas

Sardis will play in the 61st annual Caprock high school tournament in the city of Lubbock.

Sardis secondary basketball coach Adam Smith is taking his senior boys squad to the Lonestar State this Christmas.

The Falcons are getting on a plane bright and early Christmas morning, heading for the city of Lubbock, Texas.

Best known as the birthplace of rock n’ roll great Buddy Holly, it’s also home to Texas Tech University and the 61st annual Caprock Classic high school hoops tournament.

Evan Shea has traveled down the west coast of the United States. He’s visited Ontario and Quebec. But Texas will be a whole new experience.

“They all talk with crazy accents and it’s really hot,” he said with a laugh when asked what he knows about the state. “They don’t get snow and it’s really warm and humid there.

“I’ve Googled Lubbock, but other than Texas Tech being there, I don’t know a lot about it.”

Shea and the Falcons have the perfect tour guide in Smith.

The bench boss has family ties in Texas, including an uncle who owns a hundred-acre ranch in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Smith travels to Lubbock every summer to spend time with the Texas Tech football and basketball programs.

“It actually can get cold down there,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s a really close family-oriented town with an amazing sports atmosphere.

“Texas is a different place, almost like its own country within the United States. They’re proud to be Texans and they’re also proud to be American and you don’t get that with every state you go to.

“It’s just a magical place.”

With magical barbecue.

Part of the experience will be an on-campus cookout.

“Brisket. Pulled pork. Jalapeno sausages,” Smith mused. “You can get just about any type of barbecue in Texas.”

The brisket in particular interests Shea, to the point where he’s considering bringing some back on the plane.

It might not travel well, and customs officers may raise a few eyebrows, but if he’s bringing back a souvenir, that’s it.

“I’ve never had brisket, but I’ve had pulled pork and I really like it,” Shea said. “If you’re telling me I can bring back anything, some of that barbecue is coming back with me.”

The Falcons will take in a couple of NCAA Div 1 basketball games Dec. 29. They’ll watch the Red Raider men take on the California State University-Bakersfield Roadrunners at the United Supermarkets Arena.

They’ll also take in a women’s game between Texas Tech and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“I’ve only ever seen one (NCAA) Div. 1 game, and that was a Washington State game last year,” Shea said. “The whole gym was crazy energetic and I think it’s going to be really cool to experience an atmosphere like that again.

“The Texas Tech men made it to the final four last year, so we’ll be watching a really good team too.”

The Falcons will hit the court themselves four of their five days in Texas. They open against the Slaton Tigers, a small school that will pose a big challenge.

“We match up with them size wise, but on film they look really athletic and quick, and their speed will be something to deal with,” Smith said. “I think if you were to pick them up and drop them into our AAA league, they’d be a ranked team.

“Teams down there tend to be more fundamentally sound. They grow up playing the game and know exactly what to do. They’re almost like robots.”

The tourney is advertised as the biggest in North America and will include teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Canada and Australia.

Shea is a little nervous to face international competition, but also excited.

“We don’t play teams like Slaton that are athletic and quick, so it could be a challenge,” he admitted. “But I’m excited to see how we do against them. When we’re on our game, we have great energy for all four quarters and we play crazy-good defence. I think we got our swagger back at the Storm Classic (at CSS) last week and I think we can go to Texas and beat some of those teams.”

Smith is working team-building activities into the trip, including laser tag and bowling.

His great hope is the Texas adventure brings his Falcons together and adds to the culture he’s trying to establish with Sardis basketball.

“We’re trying to get it back to where it used to be, and this could be a huge stepping stone in the process,” he said. “We’re going to see probably one of the tightest-knit teams in college basketball and watch how they operate and what it looks like to be a family.”

eric.welsh@theprogress.com