NATCHITOCHES – About 800 high school basketball players representing 99 teams, including four from Bossier Parish, will visit Northwestern State Friday and Saturday for the annual Demon Basketball Team Camp hosted by coach Mike McConathy and his staff at six venues and headquartered at Prather Coliseum.
Each team is guaranteed to play five times over the two days. Competition starts at 9 a.m. Friday and 8:30 Saturday morning, with Friday’s last round of games wrapping up about 7 p.m. and Saturday’s action concluding around 6.
Airline, Bossier, Parkway and Plain Dealing are the Bossier Parish schools competing.
Games will be played at Prather Coliseum on three courts, along with gymnasiums at NSU’s Wellness and Recreation Center, the NSU Health and Human Performance Building, the Louisiana School for Math, Science and Arts, Natchitoches Central High School and St. Mary’s School.
Along with providing competitive opportunities for the players, the camp is also a training ground for Louisiana High School Athletic Association basketball officials. LHSAA assistant executive director Keith Alexander administers the officiating clinic that is staged on four courts during the camp.
McConathy, Louisiana’s winningest all-time collegiate basketball coach, is preparing for his 18th season as the Demons’ head coach. The team camp is the biggest of a series of summer camps he and his staff host.
“It’s a great opportunity to get student-athletes and potential students to the Northwestern State campus,” he said. “Throughout the year, we reach out to high school coaches within our state and in surrounding states to put our best foot forward and invite their teams to this weekend. Some will eat on our campus, some will stay on our campus, most importantly they’ll be spending time in Natchitoches and on our campus and they will experience some of what we have to offer.
“The officiating clinic has been a very good piece added to our camp,” said McConathy. “Each year Keith Alexander makes it possible. We are happy to provide the opportunity to help these officials hone their craft and get tips and evaluation that will make high school basketball better next season.”
The NSU Huddle of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, led by Randy and Christie Price, provides teams at the camp with an opportunity to participate in an FCA program. Former three-time All-Southland Conference standout Lanky Wells, a high school All-American who was a teammate of McConathy’s at Louisiana Tech and finished his college degree at NSU while a student assistant in 2008-09, will speak to teams participating in the FCA activities.
“We have so many people across our campus and our community to thank for helping make our team camp such an enjoyable and worthwhile experience for the participants,” said McConathy. “Getting to showcase NSU and Natchitoches to so many young athletes, their coaches, and their families and friends coming to watch is a very big responsibility. We are excited about it.”
Other schools from north and central Louisiana taking part are Alexandria Senior, Atlanta, Bolton, Buckeye, Caldwell Parish, Calvary Baptist, Captain Shreve, Carroll, Castor, Choudrant, Elizabeth, Fair Park, Florien, Georgetown, Glenmora, Grambling, Grant, Hicks, Huntington, Lakeview, Leesville, Logansport, Loyola, Madison, Madison Prep, Mansfield, Menard, Monterey, Natchitoches Central, Negreet, Ouachita, Pineville, Quitman, Rapides, Rayville, Ringgold, Saline, Southwood, Stanley, Tensas, Tioga, West Ouachita, Weston, Winnfield, Woodlawn, Wossman, and Zwolle.
— Doug Ireland, Northwestern State Sports Information