With the weather struggling to make up its mind about whether or not it is indeed the middle of December, Webster Parish residents are wishing for something to signify the excitement and cheer of the Holiday season.
Their wishes have been granted, as Wednesday marks the beginning of the 24th annual Minden Holiday Classic Tournament.
A staple of both Christmas time and Minden High basketball for nearly two and a half decades, the Classic has grown bigger and better than ever thanks to the tireless efforts of Minden High boys head coach Alan Shaw and Lady Tider head coach Jacob Brown, among countless others.
“We started the classic my first year at Minden High School,” said Shaw. “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 and there were maybe 12 teams in that first year. We kept promoting, kept building, trying to make it better and now we’re up to 40 teams.”
The tournament format is double elimination, garaunteeing every team at least two games. The tournament will be played at three different sites: The Palace (new gym), Webster Junior High and the Minden Recreation Complex.
Here’s a look at Wednesday’s opening night matchups.
3:30 (G1) Lakeside vs. Ringgold
4:50 (B1) Neville vs. BTW
6:10 (G4) Southwood vs. Evangel
7:30 (B4) Lakeside vs. North Webster
8:50 (G7) Minden vs. Haynesville
Webster Jr. High
3:30 (G2) Ruston vs. North Caddo
4:50 (B2) Doyline vs. Homer
6:10 (G5) Woodlawn vs. Jonesboro-Hodge
7:30 (B5) Ruston vs. Green Oaks
8:50 (G8) Homer vs. North Webster
3:30 (G3) Doyline vs. Red River
4:50 (B3) Haynesville vs. Jonesboro Hodge
6:10 (G6) Loyola vs. Neville
7:30 (B6) Woodlawn vs. Evangel
8:50 (G9) Calvary vs. Mansfield
There are plenty of great games on tap Wednesday on both sides of the bracket.
In the boys bracket, keep an eye on the local matchup between the Lakeside Warriors and North Webster Knights.
“It’s always a wonderful tournament with a lot of good teams,” North Webster head coach Rodney Thrash said. “We knew what Coach Gould likes to do, but it’s going to be tough. Those guys have been together since junior high.”
Lakeside coach Jason Gould had similar praise for the Knights.
“They’ve got a bunch of guys who’ve made deep playoff runs,” Gould said. “They have a lot of size and skill on the floor and could be one of the favorites to win this thing. We need to play these type of teams, win or lose, to make us better.”
On the girls side, check out powerhouse Southwood and Lakeside tourney champions, Evangel, do battle at the Palace at 6:10 p.m.
In the night-cap, Jacob Brown and his Minden Lady Tiders will look to move into the winners bracket versus Haynesville.
“This year’s field is as deep as we’ve ever had,” Brown said. “Just on the girls’ side alone you have some of the top teams and players in the state. A lot of these teams have played for championships recently.”
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