The first Shreveport-Bossier Holiday Classic Men’s Basketball Showcase at the CenturyLink Center on Dec. 17 will feature five North Louisiana college teams and one from Mississippi.
The Centenary College Gentlemen will face the Millsaps Majors at 2 p.m. Centenary and Millsaps are both NCAA Division III schools.
The final two games feature NCAA Division I teams. The Northwestern State Demons will take on the Louisana-Monroe Warhawks at 4 and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will play the Grambling State Tigers at 7.
The event is sponsored by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. A press conference was held Tuesday afternoon at the CenturyLink which featured almost all of the school’s coaches and athletic directors.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to come to Shreveport-Bossier and play in this great venue,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy, a former Airline star and BPCC head coach. “We’ve been here before and have had great success. It’s great for our fans, and it’s great for recruiting as far as the university is concerned. We’ve got a nursing school here, and it’s always important to be here in Bossier City-Shreveport.”
Said NSU athletic director Greg Burke: “Any day is a great day to be in the Bossier-Shreveport area. We have great fans and great alumni here. I’d like to thank Kelly Wells (Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission), Billy Wayne Montgomery (chair of SB Sports Commission), (Bossier City) mayor Lo Walker and the commission as a whole for putting this together because this is such an important market for everybody involved.”
McConathy coached NSU in the first-ever college basketball game in the CenturyLink Center against Oral Roberts in 2001, winning 71-59.
NSU has two Bossier City natives that will visit their home town – Bossier High products Jalan West (who won’t be able to play because of a knee injury) and Devonte Hall.
ULM coach Keith Richard said he likes the idea of playing a game in the Bossier City-Shreveport area.
““I’m hoping we have a good turnout,” he said. “Both schools have ties to that part of the state so I think it has a great chance to be a successful event.”
ULM athletic director Brian Wickstrom is also high on the area.
“The ability to play a game in the Shreveport-Bossier City area goes along with the plan of (ULM president) Dr. (Nick) Bruno’s to engage alums across the state of Louisiana,” he said. “The chance for the student-athletes to play in a state of the art facility contributes to a great student athlete experience.”
Louisiana Tech coach Eric Konkol pointed out the large number of alumni and fans the school has in the Bossier City-Shreveport area.
“This is something we have wanted to do, to try and come over to the Shreveport-Bossier area because we have so many fans, so many passionate alums,” he said. “Secondly, we wanted to do this for our team. It is a chance to play at a neutral site in a beautiful building. To be part of an event like this, representing North Louisiana, is special.”
This will mark the first time the Bulldogs play at the CenturyLink Center (then called the CenturyTel Center) since December of 2008 when they battled Centenary.
Grambling State interim athletic director Obadiah Simmons also said it will be beneficial for the Tigers to play in Bossier City-Shreveport because of the large number of Grambling alumni in the area.
Ticket pricing will be announced within the next two weeks and tickets for the matchup will be available at participating university ticket box offices and locally at the CenturyLink Center beginning Friday, Sept. 30, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
For more information visit www.shreveportbossiersports.com. Sponsorships are also available by contacting Kelly Wells at email@example.com or calling 318-222-9391.
— Staff Reports