Fambrough: What’s next for Top 28 tournaments? _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- University High's D.J. White gets past John Curtis' Garrett Wallow in the Class 3A final of the Boys Top 28 tournament Saturday in Lake Charles.

After 10 days and 42 games, the LHSAA/Allstate Sugar Bowl Top 28 basketball tournaments are history.

There was a little history made during year two of the tournaments held at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles. Attendance was up more than 5,000 for each tournament for each tourney.

The girls tourney attracted an impressive 19,916 fans. Though the numbers don’t rival its glory days at the Cajundome and Maravich Assembly Center, the boys tourney drew 29,848 fans.

After four years of a somewhat nomad-like existence, credit Lake Charles with giving the LHSAA tourneys some much-needed stability. Lake Charles became the first repeat host site since 2011, when Hammond hosted the girls tourney and Lafayette hosted the boys.

What happens next? No one seems to be sure.

New LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said it wasn’t the proper time to discuss bids for the upcoming tournaments. Though I agree to some extent, the speculation has begun.

Expect Lake Charles to bid on both tourneys again. Shreveport-Bossier has made its plans to bid known. You can expect Southeastern Louisiana to bid on the girls tourney. Bids from the Monroe area aren’t a surprise, either.

Bids from others, including Lafayette and the Cajundome, may not happen at this point because of scheduling conflicts. The LHSAA has its plate full with the final classification meeting this week and other items before its summer meetings when the two-year bids will be handled.

This may be another one of those watershed moments for the Bonine era. And it’s something that the Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association has a vested interest in.

I was surprised when LHSBCA President Chris White of Airline High told me his organization didn’t poll its membership to get its ideas on what the best championship sites would be.

White said the group spent much of its meeting discussing those ever-changing power ratings that changed again weeks after principals approved a new formula.

LHSBCA members got to meet with Bonine Friday morning. White said the group liked Bonine and his message about bringing a “fresh pair of eyes” to the LHSAA.

What that means for future tourney-site bids no one is sure. While he supports the bids to bring events to the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, White says he is among the coaches who feel the boys tourney should return to the Cajundome.

“With that regional format, the tournaments lost their identities,” White said. “The Cajundome was the destination for basketball before all that. It was like going to the (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome in football. I’d like to think we can get that back somehow.”

White and others point out the proximity of Lafayette, which is three hours from Shreveport and the Monroe areas with interstate routes and even closer to New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

The geography may not bode well for Lake Charles, Bossier or Hammond, which is considered to be the traditional girls site.

Whatever the next choices are for the tourneys, they decisions must be made wisely. When I returned home early Sunday I retrieved one of the old tourney programs that lists attendance figures.

Last week I was a bit off when I said this year’s girls attendance was likely top 10 all time. It would be more like top 15, which is still awesome. The boys tourney is a victim of its own past success, considering the fact that it drew well over 30,000 fans before 1991 to 2011.

Will the LHSAA be satisfied if the new normal is in the 30,000 range? Would it be better to have some stability in Lake Charles to move again?

Both are good questions that the LHSAA, its schools and those bidding to host will have to answer.

But for now it’s OK for everyone to relish the fact that both tourneys were a success in 2015.

All-tourney team

Anacoco’s Will Reese was voted the MVP of the Boys Top 28 all-tournament team that was selected by the media covering the tournament.

Local players voted to the squad include Scotlandville’s Ja’Vonte Smart, University’s Wayde Sims and Skylar Mays and Madison Prep’s Brandon Sampson.

The all-tournament team also included Landry-Walker’s Kaytaon Thompson, New Living Word’s Javier Roper, Riverside Academy’s Herb McGee, Jordan Andrews and Von Julien, Lakeview’s Tay Hardy and Kai Morgan of John Curtis.