Defending Class 4A state champion Bossier and defending Class 5A state champion Natchitoches Central headline the field for the 77th annual Bossier Invitational boys basketball tournament.
First-round games in the 16-team event will be played Wednesday and Thursday at Bossier High and BPCC.
Quarterfinal games will be Friday at Bossier and Elm Grove Middle School. The semifinal, third-place and championship games will be Saturday at Bossier.
Bossier, which has won two tournaments this season, finished fourth last year. The Bearkats lost only one more game the rest of the season en route to the Class 4A state championship.
Bossier (16-3), which won the Willis-Knighton Doc Edwards Invitational last week, takes an 11-game winning streak into the tournament.
Natchitoches Central, which defeated North Caddo 64-57 in last year’s title game, was 14-2 through last week.
The Chiefs fell to East Ascension 48-39 on Dec. 30. Their only other loss was to 2016 Class 4A state runner-up Washington-Marion 90-85.
Natchitoches Central senior guard Brandon Rachal, a four-year starter, is an LSU signee.
The Bearkats and Chiefs are in opposite sides of the bracket. They have faced off once this season with Natchitoches Central winning 56-51 in the City of Lights tournament on Nov. 23 in Natchitoches.
Benton is the only other Bossier Parish team in the field. The Tigers, 4-7 through last week, take on Richwood (12-8) at 6 p.m. Thursday at BPCC in the first round.
Some other teams to watch include Ruston, Huntington, Fair Park, North Caddo and Carencro.
Ruston, which defeated Bossier in overtime in last year’s third-place game, was 10-4 through last week.
Huntington (10-7) defeated Fair Park (11-6) 57-54 in the third-place game of the Doc Edwards Invitational last week.
North Caddo, a Class 2A semifinalist last season, lost star post player Robert Williams to graduation. The Rebels were 12-7 through last week.
Carencro was 11-7 through last week.
AT BOSSIER HIGH
Union Parish vs. Mansfield, 5 p.m.
North Caddo vs. Huntington, 6:30 p.m.
Fair Park vs. Red River, 8 p.m.
AT BOSSIER HIGH
BTW vs. Ruston, 4:30 p.m.
Natchitoches Central vs. Green Oaks, 6 p.m.
Bossier vs. New Living Word, 7:30 p.m.
Richwood vs. Benton, 6 p.m.
Northwood vs. Carencro, 7:30 p.m.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org