Minden High School’s 24th annual Holiday Classic basketball tournament tipped off Wednesday featuring 40 outstanding boys’ and girls’ teams, and some things about the event are as certain as death and taxes.
At each of the three gyms – Minden High, Webster Junior High and the Minden Recreation Center – attendees will see the area’s finest teams in action. People will also get a glimpse of some athletes who will continue their playing careers at the college level.
And, anyone watching games at the Minden High gymnasium will most likely see C.L. Johnson on his perch at the official scorer’s table. Johnson has been the official scorekeeper for Minden High School for about 30 years and has kept the books at the Classic since the tournament’s beginning.
“Rodney Shaffer was keeping the clock and he was looking for someone to keep the books. He kind of coerced me into coming one night, and it worked into one of those deals where you just can’t say no,” Johnson said, laughing.
Over the years, Johnson has seen the Holiday Classic become more than just a tournament. It has become an ever-growing showcase for talented teams and athletes.
“It’s larger, for sure, and it seems like the quality of teams and players improves each year,” Johnson said. “There’s never really a favorite you can pick early on unless there’s another Huntington or Bossier from the years they were very strong.”
Johnson, who played high school basketball, said he is most impressed by the development of the athletes over the 24-year span of the tournament.
“The quality of athlete just gets better and better. They seem to be able to run faster and last longer … they’re going just as strong at the end of the game as at the beginning,” he said. “And the guys these days seem like they can jump out of the gym. They can really get up there.”
MHS head basketball coaches Alan Shaw and Jacob Brown, and school volunteers work very hard to put on a quality tournament, Johnson said, “and the success of this tournament each year is a testament to their hard work.”
Johnson said the Classic has become a holiday tradition for him.
“I look forward to this each year. I don’t consider this work; it’s a lot of fun. I know a lot of people in town who love basketball love this tournament. I’m glad to be a small part of it,” he said.