Madison Prep’s Jeff Jones wants to host a big boys basketball tournament, but is starting small. Walker High’s Korey Arnold has taken things to the opposite extreme with his school’s girls tourney.
Jones and the Chargers tip off the Madison Prep Classic with two games starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The Walker Lady Cat tournament won’t start until 3 p.m. Thursday but will feature 43 teams playing in a round-robin-type format at three sites.
“I want this thing to be like the Sugar Bowl tournament is in New Orleans in a couple of years,” Jones said. “We want to get the best teams in Louisiana and some from out-of-state. It’s a small field this year, but we’ve got some good teams. Lafayette High is unbeaten, Port Allen’s unbeaten and you’ve got a couple of us who only have one loss.”
Action begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday with Port Allen taking on Tara. Madison Prep plays Amite at 7:30 p.m. Four games are set for Thursday, including Lafayette vs. Hamilton Christian at 4 p.m. the Tara-Port Allen winner vs. Northside High at 5:30 p.m. and McKinley vs. Lafayette Christian at 7 p.m.
The four-day tournament runs through Saturday. The championship game is set for 6 p.m. Saturday.
Given the number and scope of teams, there is no championship game for Walker’s Lady Cat tourney that features games at WHS, two gyms at Live Oak High and the Westside Junior High gym located across the street from Walker High. The Lady Cat tourney also runs through Saturday.
A game between defending state champions Mount Carmel Academy of Class 5A and Salmen of 4A at 6:45 p.m. Friday at the Walker gym is perhaps the biggest matchup. Salmen is led by 6-foot-5 Baylor signee Kalani Brown, rated as the nation’s No. 11 prospect and No. 1 among post players.
“When I was at Sam Houston, we hosted a tournament where we brought in some nationally ranked teams,” Arnold said. “We got a Nike sponsorship and did some nice things with it.
“So when I came to Walker, people asked me about doing a tournament like that here. The first year it was 16 teams, last year it was 30 and this year we’ve got 43. And I turned about 10 teams away. We didn’t have any other gym space we could use.”
Arnold said he tried to match teams based on their competitive levels as much as possible. In addition to Mount Carmel and Salmen, Karr and Warren Easton are other notable New Orleans area teams.
Host Walker was a 5A quarterfinalist last season. The team Walker beat to win the Livingston Parish title last weekend, 3A Albany, was a semifinalist last season. Jewel Sumner is another notable 3A team. North Louisiana 5A teams, West Monroe and Natchitoches Central, also are notable entrants.
Baker’s Wedge Kyes and the Runnels’ Round-Robin are other boys tournaments that begin Thursday. The Episcopal Invitational is the other girls tourney.
Four games are scheduled each day from Thursday through Saturday at Runnels. The Wedge Kyes tourney has three games each day with the championship game set for 5 p.m. Saturday with games played at Bethany Christian.
Games are scheduled for Friday and Saturday for the Episcopal Invitational, which also has a round-robin format.