By Tom Dodge
PORT BARRE - The annual St. Landry Parish basketball tournament begins Thursday at Port Barre High School.
On the boy's side the top two seeds, North Central and Northwest receive first round byes.
"We have a very good team," North Central head basketball coach Butch Fontenot said of his 13-1 Hurricane squad. "We start three juniors, but we are a solid ball club."
North Central comes into the parish tournament coming off a 86-52 win over Ville Platte.
"We have five players than can be in double figures on any given night, but my go-to players are Marcus Lewis, the twins Errick and Derrick Coleman and Kenard Tanner is playing pretty good basketball right now. Coming off the bench is freshman Chris Robinson and Issac Dixon.
"Our guys are excited about the season so far," Fontenot said. "They want to go after it, they like winning."
While the tournament includes all the public schools in St. Landry Parish, Fontenot was disappointed that the private school teams did not participate this year.
"This is not a true parish tournament," Fontenot said. "We don't have Westminster or Opelousas Catholic and St. Ed's is not taking part.
"Those teams can come in and out, but year-in and year-out I have to take what I have and show up there."
Fontenot said his Hurricanes drew a tough side of the bracket, possibly facing OHS on the Tigers' home court.
If North Central advances, the Hurricanes could square off against rival Northwest in the title game on Saturday.
"I would like to play them again," Fontenot said of the Raiders. "We played them earlier. We lost to them by four points and we played a very bad ball game."
The top two girls teams also receive first round byes, North Central and Beau Chene will begin play on Friday.
"They are playing well," Fontenot said of the Lady Hurricanes. "They have a legitimate chance to win the tournament. Northwest is playing well and Beau Chene also."
The Northwest Lady Raiders will open the tournament against the Port Barre Lady Devils at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Eunice Bobcats and the Port Barre Red Devils begin boys' action at 5 p.m.
The Opelousas Lady Tigers will face the Eunice Lady Bobcats at 6:30 p.m.
The Opelousas boys will face Beau Chene at 8 p.m. in Thursday's finale.
Friday's semifinal games will be held at Opelousas High with the Lady Hurricanes taking on the Northwest/Port Barre winner at 3:30 p.m.
In boy's action, The Northwest Raiders will face the Port Barre/Eunice winner at 5 p.m.
The Lady Gators will battle the OHS/Eunice winner at 6:30 p.m.
The North Central Hurricanes conclude semifinal play 8 p.m. against the OHS/Beau Chene winner.
The girls championship will tip off 6 p.m. Saturday at the OHS gym, with the boys title game following at 7:30 p.m.
Originally published December 15, 2004