With the holiday season in full swing, Minden High School is busy preparing to host the 24th annual Minden Holiday Classic, beginning Wednesday.
The holidays are a hectic time of year around Minden High School because of the stress to get ready for what has grown into north Louisiana’s biggest basketball tournament, but the Crimson Tide coaches paused to reflect on how special an event the Holiday Classic has become.
“We started the Classic my first year at Minden High School,” Crimson Tide boys head coach Alan Shaw said. “Our girls coach at the time was Tony Bone and we wanted to start a tournament with a goal to have one of the biggest, most well-known tournaments in the state of Louisiana. That was in 1991. There were maybe 12 teams that first year, but we kept promoting, kept building, trying to make it better and now we’re up to 40 teams.”
Lady Tider head coach Jacob Brown, coaching in his sixth Classic, said the tournament hasn’t just gotten bigger, it’s better.
“It’s as deep a field of teams as I think we’ve ever had,” Brown said. “Just on the girls side you have several teams who’ve won or played for state championships. You get a lot of very good matchups even early in the tournament and some of the best players in the area will be there.”
The Minden Holiday Classic will be played over a span of four days at three different gyms to accommodate the amount of teams in this year’s field. The Palace (new gym), Webster Junior High School and the Minden Recreation Complex will serve as game sites this year. The Minden Recreation Complex is hosting games for the second straight year, replacing the old Minden gym.
“We’re very excited,” Zita Miles, building coordinator for the Minden Recreation Complex said. “This year we are fully staffed and prepared to host some great competition. I think it’s great that people from around the area will have a chance to come in and see the facility and what we have to offer here in Minden.”
The Holiday Classic not only serves as the area’s premier basketball tournament, but also as the Minden High School basketball program’s major fundraising effort.
“The tournament fuels us for the season in terms of helping with expenses,” Shaw said. “The boys and girls teams both have some fundraisers throughout the year to help with some other expenses but the tournament fuels us for the entire season.”
The tournament depends heavily on its sponsors as well, and this year the Minden Press-Herald stepped up to co-sponsor the Holiday Classic, along with Gibsland Bank & Trust.
“The Press-Herald has long wanted to be a part of the Holiday Classic and when the opportunity to be co-sponsor came about this year, we jumped at the chance,” Press-Herald publisher Gregg Parks said.
Greg Lee, GB&T vice president and branch manager agrees, saying he knows the tournament brings players and their families to the area.
“It’s good for our town, good for the community. Why wouldn’t you sponsor an event like this?” Lee asked. “We believe in supporting the kids … the high school. We put a lot of faith in them, and we like to put our money where our mouth is. The Classic pulls in from all over the place. We love helping out the local community and what better way to support our children than by teaming up with the Press-Herald.”
Dates for this year’s Minden Holiday Classic are Dec. 17 – 20. Gate: $6 admission until the finals, $7 for finals.