The St. Amant Gators and Minden Lady Tiders will be looking to defend their titles in the 2018 Doc Edwards Invitational, but it won’t be easy.
The boy and girls fields feature some talented teams that will be seeking to dethrone them.
The event, sponsored by Willis-Knighton Health System, begins Thursday at four sites — Airline, BPCC, Benton High and Benton Middle.
The field features 14 boys and 15 girls teams.
In the past, the tournament has been a four-day event. This year it has been shortened to three with both the semifinals and finals on Saturday.
The boys and girls semifinal games are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and noon at Airline and Benton.
Both championship games are at Airline with the girls starting at 7 and the boys following at 8:30.
Parish teams in the boys field are Airline (8-7), Benton (4-11) and Parkway (7-3).
Parish teams competing for the girls title are Airline (7-10), Benton (17-1) and Parkway (7-8).
Last year, Minden defeated North Caddo 64-60 in overtime in the girls championship game.
North Caddo, the defending Class 2A champion, is back in the field. The Lady Rebels are off to a 12-1 start with their only loss to Benton 45-42 in the Trak-1 tournament on Nov. 17.
Minden is off to a 15-2 start with losses to Red River and Ruston.
Minden and North Caddo are on opposite sides of the bracket and wouldn’t meet until the title game.
North Caddo and Red River (17-5) will be favored to meet in Friday’s quarterfinals. The Lady Rebels defeated the Lady Bulldogs 73-57 in the finals of the Minden Holiday Classic on Dec. 15.
North Caddo’s Destiny Rice, an Alabama signee, was the named the tournament’s MVP. Red River’s Makayia Hallmon, a ULL signee, made the all-tournament team.
Benton, whose only loss was to 2018 Class 4A runner-up Neville 48-41 on Dec. 14 in the West Ouachita tournament, could face Minden in Saturday’s semifinals.
Benton won its Trak-1 tournament earlier this season. Senior Emily Ward, the two-time All-Parish MVP, was named the tournament’s MVP.
St. Amant defeated Airline 82-62 in the boys championship game last year. The Gators are 11-6, and Airline is 8-7.
Class 2A teams Lakeview (17-3) and Red River (15-2) bring the best records into the tournament.
Lakeview defeated Red River 70-60 in the Minden tournament en route to the title.
The Gators’ Zarious Lewis was named the tournament’s MVP.
Red River reached the Class 2A semifinals last season, and Lakeview was a quarterfinalist.
Both teams lost to eventual state champion Rayville.
Other boys teams bringing winning records into the tournament are Homer (8-6), Denham Springs (9-7), Minden (8-6), Many (5-2) and Huntington (8-3).
Thursday’s first-round games
Parkway vs. Woodlawn (girls), 2:30
Minden vs. DeRidder (girls), 4
Airline vs. BTW (boys), 5:30
Airline vs. Lakeview (girls), 7
Denham Springs vs. Minden (boys), 8:30
Lakeview vs. Homer (boys), 5:30
Green Oaks vs. Homer (girls), 7
Huntington vs. Parkway (boys), 8:30
AT BENTON HIGH SCHOOL
North Caddo vs. Northwood (girls), 4
Benton vs. Many (boys), 5:30
Benton vs. Southwood (girls), 7
St. Amant vs. Northwood (boys), 8:30
AT BENTON MIDDLE SCHOOL
Huntington vs. Red River (girls), 5:30
North Webster vs. Red River (boys), 7