The Holden girls won the Livingston Parish basketball tournament last year for the first time since 2001 and only the second time overall.

Making it two titles in a row will take not only surviving the usual challenges in a typically stout girls bracket, but also handling the expectations that come with wearing the No. 1 seed.

The defending champs are seeded first in the annual December tournament that tipped off Tuesday and runs through Saturday night.

All games will be played at the Hornsby Gym at Denham Springs and feature teams from all nine of the parish's basketball-playing schools. The girls' title will be decided at 6 p.m. Saturday followed by the boys' championship game.

"The thing about Livingston Parish is, there are always about four or five teams that could win it," Holden coach Pam Forbes said. "It's really about who gets hot. I think the quality of coaching in this parish is what sets us apart from a lot of other parishes."

Albany is seeded second in the girls' tournament and was set to open play against No. 7 seed Live Oak. Host Denham Springs, which lost to Holden in the final last year, is seeded third and had a matchup with No. 6 Doyle in opening action.

Holden plays its first game Thursday looking to build on a 10-0 start that includes early victories against some of the top Class B and C teams in the state.

The Rockets boast one of three Division I signees in the girls' bracket as senior guard Kaylee Hughes has signed with McNeese State.

Denham Springs post player Maia Robinson is also a McNeese signee. Albany forward Natalie Kelly has signed with Auburn.

On the boys' side, Walker enters as a prohibitive favorite after winning the tournament the past two seasons with younger teams.

The Wildcats, who lost only one player from a team that won 25 games last year, were off to a 4-0 start after routing Lee on Thursday night.

Denham is the No. 2 seed in the boys' bracket and was set to open the tournament against No. 7 seed Albany, while Live Oak was seeded third and slated to face No. 6 seed Holden in its opener.

Denham improved to 7-1 on the young season by winning all three of its games at the St. Amant tournament last week.

Holden's girls avenged a loss to Denham in the 2015 title game by beating the Yellow Jackets in the Livingston Parish final last year but fell short of repeating as Class B state champions when the Rockets were ousted by Florien in the state semifinals.

Hughes is one of four returning starters.

Other key cogs for the Rockets, who rely on an eight-player rotation, include guards Jaycee Hughes and K.K. Kropog and forwards Amanda Fekete and Victoria Richardson.

Albany has Kelly back to lead a team that entered the tournament with a 6-1 mark after losing in the Class 3A title game last year.

Denham was off to a 7-0 start before losing to Lee on Saturday in the St. Michael tournament.

"Everybody likes to win the parish tournament because of the history of our parish," Forbes said. "Our parish has such a strong, rich history of girls basketball. It doesn't matter what classification you are or your success in the past. One team is going to step out and have a great week."

Scott Hotard covers sports for The Livingston-Tangipahoa Advocate. He can be contacted at shotard44@gmail.com or livingston@theadvocate.com.