MIDLAND – The Midland Holiday Spectacular, one of prep basketball’s most prestigious holiday tournaments, will have a different look to it beginning Wednesday.
The tournament gets underway at 10:30 a.m. with a girls game between Jennings and Notre Dame but the teams won’t be playing to advance in bracket play.
This year, for the first time, the tournament is broken down into more of a round robin format with every team on the boy’s side playing three games except for Midland, which will play four. The girl’s will share a similar schedule with the exception of Midland and Iota, which will each play four games instead of three.
“Honestly, this is our big fund raiser and we haven’t been making the money we used to make,” said Midland Rebels’ coach Todd Briley. “This way, it’s not luck of the draw. We can fix the matchups for the right time of the day so that we can get the best possible draw. It was more of a financial thing.”
Another factor in the format change is the number of teams that will be attending the tournament this year. In the past, it was nothing for Briley to have a 16-team field on the boys side. Now, the tournament has dwindled down to just nine teams.
“We were lucky to get the number of teams that we have,” said Briley. “It’s just getting hard to have a tournament, especially during Christmas. When the LHSAA changed the starting time of the season, with some of these bigger districts, they have to start their district play earlier now. All those different factors have caused a lot of teams that we have had in the past not be able to be in it.”
The most notable teams that will be absent this year are Kinder, Welsh, Lake Arthur and Crowley High.
This year, joining Midland on the boy’s side will be tournament mainstays Jennings, Rayne and Notre Dame. Newcomers include Eunice, Bolton, Carencro and David Thibodeaux as well as Lafayette Christian, who is under the direction of former Northside Christian coach Byron Starks.
Starks’ squad enters the tournament with the best record of the field at 13-2 while Midland sits at 12-6.
The girl’s side is equally impressive.
In 2011, the tournament fielded just five girl’s teams but has upped its total this year to eight.
Highlighting the field is the St. Thomas More Lady Cougars, who enter with a mark of 10-3. The Class 4A defending state champions are joined by 5A power Sulpher (10-2) and Class 3A’s Notre Dame (10-2)
Also joining Midland in the field are Iota, Comeaux, Jennings and Bolton.
“I think we are going to have some really good games to watch and that’s the main thing,” said Briley. “If you like high school basketball, you have four days of all-day basketball and a good gym to watch it in. I think we will be able to provide people with some pretty good entertainment.”
Crowley to play in
PRAIRIE RHONDE – The Crowley Gents will begin a new holiday ritual on Thursday evening.
For the first time, coach Derrick’s Boone’s squad will not be participating in the Midland Holiday Spectacular. Instead, the Gents elected for a change of scenery and will take on North Central in the first round of the Northwest Holiday Tournament at 6:30 p.m.
“The Northwest coach called me and was looking for a team to fill his tournament,” said Boone. “I’m related to him so I decided to go ahead and help him out.
“And sometimes change is good. I just wanted to give our guys a different look and a different feel.”
The Gents will definitely be tested, especially right out of the gate against the Hurricanes, a perennial power in Class 1A.
A victory by the Gents would send them into the semifinals against either Ville Platte or Hamilton Christian. That game will be played on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
The top half of the bracket includes Northwest, Redemptorist, Opelousas and Iowa.
“We definitely have a challenge ahead of us,” said Boone. “We start off with North Central and they are always a solid team. It’s a big challenge, which we need right now.
“And then we have Ville Platte and Hamilton Christian in our side of the bracket. It’s going to be a challenge, but a good challenge for us.”
MHS HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR SCHEDULE
GirlsJennings vs. Notre Dame 10:30 a.m.
GirlsComeaux vs. BoltonNoon
BoysRayne vs. Bolton1:30 p.m.
BoysNotre Dame vs. David Thibodeaux3 p.m.
GirlsSulphur vs. St. Thomas More4:30 p.m.
GirlsMidland vs. Iota6 p.m.
BoysMidland vs. Eunice7:30 p.m.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 27
BoysRayne vs. Jennings9 a.m.
GirlsSt. Thomas More vs. Bolton10:30 p.m.
BoysBolton vs. David ThibodeauxNoon
GirlsSulphur vs. Jennings1:30 p.m.
BoysLafayette Christian vs. Carencro3 p.m.
GirlsIota vs. Notre Dame4:30 p.m.
GirlsComeaux vs. Midland6 p.m.
BoysNotre Dame vs. Midland7:30 p.m.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28
BoysEunice vs. Lafayette Christian11:30 a.m.
GirlsComeaux vs. Jennings1 p.m.
BoysBolton vs. Carencro2:30 p.m.
GirlsSulphur vs. Iota 4 p.m.
GirlsMidland vs. Bolton5:30 p.m.
BoysMidland vs. Jennings7 p.m.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29
BoysDavid Thibodeaux vs. Eunice11:30 a.m.
BoysJennings vs. Lafayette Christian1 p.m.
BoysCarencro vs. Notre Dame2:30 p.m.
GirlsIota vs. St. Thomas More4 p.m.
GirlsNotre Dame vs. Midland5:30 p.m.
BoysRayne vs. Midland7 p.m.