The Big Dave Classic basketball tournament hosted by Northside High School will tip off at 6 p.m. Wednesday with two ontests that will feature four teams of the 10-team field.
The tournament is the first Northside will host since coach Ross Rix took the helm of the team last August, and it will honor Dave Thibodeaux, a local radio host and former AAU coach, who was a staple for Acadiana-area basketball.
“Big Dave Thibodeaux was a family friend of ours,” Rix said. “He and my dad coached together in the Louisiana AAU program for about 25-30 years, so they’ve been friends for years. He was a local sports personality with a radio show. He was a big part of sports in the Acadiana area, so we thought it would be a good tribute to him.”
This week’s tournament will showcase nine teams from across Louisiana in addition to St. Stephens Episcopal School from Austin, Texas, whose roster contains one of the top prospects in the country.
St. Stephens’ 6-foot-10 senior center Jarrett Allen, who has received offers from Kentucky, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Texas, will showcase his talents against some of Louisiana’s best basketball programs, including defending Class 1A champion Madison Prep and Southern Lab.
Rix said Madison Prep will likely be the favorite, but St. Stephens will make it tough on the Chargers, as the two teams may meet each other in the semifinals of the tournament.
“Coach Lamont King for St. Stephens is from Waterproof, Louisiana, and he actually played AAU for Big Dave and my dad,” Rix said. “I’ve seen film on (Jarrett Allen) and it’s going to be interesting to see how the Louisiana teams match up and play against him.”
Madison Prep will take on Hamilton Christian in the tournament’s opening matchup for a spot against Washington-Marion in Thursday’s first game followed by a contest between New Iberia and Southern Lab, in which the winner will play Peabody at 5:30 p.m.
There will be two former Northside coaches featured in the tournament in St. Louis’ Rick LeBato and Southern Lab’s Devin Clark. Hamilton coach Dexter Washington also has ties to the area as he used to coach Opelousas.
Northside will look to improve on its performance in the Showdown in the Lake hosted by Hamilton Christian in which it went 2-2.
In its final three games of the tournament in Lake Charles, the Vikings struggled early, giving up large deficits in the first quarter against Landry-Walker, Hamilton and Ruston. They were able to close the gap in all three games and even erase a 15-point deficit to defeat Hamilton, but it cost Northside victories against Landry-Walker and Ruston.
Rix said those performances have been on his team’s mind since they arrived home from Lake Charles, and he hopes the Vikings have learned their lesson through the losses.
“It’s definitely something we’ve talked about since we got back,” Rix said. “We can be a really good squad if we put four complete quarters together.”