Fair Park principal Bruce Daigle said Wednesday he is fortunate to have hired Cherise Sims and Eddie Hamilton as basketball coaches at his school. The duo have been successful on the court, as well as off it, in directing their charges.
Daigle will feel a lot better about Sims and Hamilton if this week’s inaugural Metro PCS Battle on the Hardwood Classic comes off without a hitch.
The brainchild of Sims, pushed along on the boys’ side by Hamilton, will feature 33 teams (13 boys, 20 girls) playing 42 games at five area gyms.
“I hired the best people I could get and they’ve done a tremendous job getting this tournament ready and getting the community involved,” Daigle said. “I believe it’s going to be a good tournament.”
A news conference was held Wednesday at the Fair Park gym with a number of folks involved in the event on hand, including BTW coach LeAndre Gipson and Huntington coach Mack Jones, who has coached locally for 28 years. The Raiders will play West Monroe, Longview and John Tyler in successive days.
“This will be my first year to play all of our games in Louisiana,” Jones said. “We usually travel for the competition, but this event allows us to stay close to home. I’m glad they’re taking this idea and running with it.”
The tournament will not crown a champion. Instead, teams will play two or three games against pre-determined opponents at pre-determined times. Games will be played at Fair Park, Huntington and Captain Shreve on Thursday with the BTW gym added to the mix Friday. Saturday games will be at Fair Park and the Centenary Gold Dome only.
“There will be an elite array of teams competing, including Destrehan, which has the girls’ Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year in Cara Ursin,” Sims said. “We had hoped to have eight teams this year, and now we’re up to 20 just on the girls’ side, which is great.”
Tickets for the event, presented by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission, are $10 per day or $20 for a three-day pass if purchased by Thursday.
Gipson said his Lions will use the experience of playing powerhouse Pro-Vision out of Houston and Robert E. Lee of Tyler as preparation for a potential championship run.
“As a coach, you want to see how your players will respond in certain situations,” Gipson said. “Playing teams like this helps our team understand about playing different teams. We have some great players in this area and this allows us to showcase them.”
Saturday’s schedule of games at the Gold Dome are a must-see, 10-game slate featuring some of the top boys and girls teams in the area, state and region beginning at 9 a.m. and running through 8:30 p.m.
On the girls’ side Class 2A champ North Caddo, 1A champ Arcadia, 3A semifinalist Parkview Baptist, 5A semifinalist Natchitoches Central, 5A quarterfinalists New Iberia and Destrahan along with 2A semifinalist Red River will be in action.
The event will conclude with a rematch of the boys LHSAA Class 4A state title game between Bossier and Washington-Marion at 8:30 p.m.
The tournament will serve as a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen foundation in its efforts to find a cure for breast cancer. Proceeds from the sale of T-shirts and $1 from every program sold will be donated to Komen, according to Sims.
BATTLE ON THE HARDWOOD CLASSIC
Thursday at Fair Park: Girls – North Caddo vs. Lincoln (4:30 p.m.); Fair Park vs. Wossman (5:50); Arcadia vs. John Tyler (7); Boys – Pro-Vision vs. John Tyler (8:20).
Thursday at Huntington: Girls – Red River vs. West Monroe (5 p.m.); Boys – Green Oaks vs. Robert E. Lee (6:30); Huntington vs. West Monroe (8).
Thursday at Captain Shreve: Girls – Mansfield vs. Rayville (5 p.m.); Captain Shreve vs. El Dorado (6:30); Boys – Captain Shreve vs. Bossier.
Friday at Fair Park: Girls – Fair Park vs. Plain Dealing (4:20 p.m.); Red River vs. Arcadia (5:40); Boys – Woodlawn vs. Captain Shreve (7); Fair Park vs. Washington-Marion.
Friday at Huntington: Girls – El Dorado vs. Liocoln (4:20 p.m.); Bossier vs. Nacogdoches (5:40); Boys – Bossier vs. Robert E. Lee (7); Huntington vs. Longview (8:20).
Friday at Captain Shreve: Girls – Parkview Baptist vs. Rayville (4:20 p.m.); North Caddo vs. New Iberia (5:40); Natchitoches Central vs. Parkview (7); Captain Shreve vs. Mansfield (8:20).
Friday at BTW: Girls – Wossman vs. Destrehan (4:20 p.m.); Destrehan vs. John Tyler (7); Boys – Green Oaks vs. Pro-Vision (5:40); BTW vs. Pro-Vision (8:20).
Saturday at Fair Park: Girls – El Dorado vs. Nacogdoches (9 a.m.); Green Oaks vs. Plain Dealing (10:15); Captain Shreve vs. West Monroe (12:45 p.m.); Mansfield vs. Nacogdoches (2 p.m.); Boys – Captain Shreve vs. Pro-Vision (11:30 a.m.); West Monroe vs. Longview (3:15 p.m.).
Saturday at Centenary: Girls – New Iberia vs. Lincoln (10:15 a.m.); NCHS vs. Destrehan (11:30 a.m.); Red River vs. Parkview (12:45 p.m.); NCHS vs. John Tyler (3:15 p.m.); North Caddo vs. Arcadia (5:50 p.m.); Boys – Washington-Marion vs. John Tyler (9 a.m.); BTW vs. Robert E. Lee (2 p.m.); Huntington vs. John Tyler (4:30 p.m.); Woodlawn vs. Pro-Vision (7:15 p.m.); Bossier vs. Washington-Marion (8:30 p.m.)