The 76th Bossier Invitational boys basketball tournament, sponsored by Bossier Federal Credit Union, will crown a new champion Saturday night.
Captain Shreve defeated Parkway in the 2015 championship game and neither are in this year’s field.
In fact, the tournament has shrunk from 14 to 12 teams. Airline and Plain Dealing are also not competing this year.
District 1-5A expanded to seven teams this season and started district play a week early, so those teams were unable to play in the tourament. District 1-1A also has more teams and Plain Dealing has a district game Friday. Benton (7-6), which plays Green Oaks (8-7) at 8:30 in the first round tonight, is the only other Bossier Parish team competing.
But the Bossier Invitational still has a very strong field that contains some of the top teams in the state based on recent LHSAA power ratings.
After a one-year absence, the Natchitoches Central Chiefs are back. The Chiefs (12-3) won the 2014 Class 5A state championship and were runners-up last season.
One of the key players on those teams, 6-foot-8 Cameron Lard, transferred in the offseason. But the Chiefs still have 6-foot-5 junior guard Brandon Rachal, one of the state’s top college prospects in the Class of 2017.
Other top contenders include North Caddo (13-4), Ruston (12-3), Fair Park (12-3), Bossier (12-6) and Huntington (9-9).
Natchitoches Central and Ruston were ranked 2-3 in the Dec. 29 5A power rankings. Bossier and Fair Park were ranked 2-3 in 4A. The Indians defeated the Bearkats 36-33 in the Doc Edwards title game last week.
North Caddo was No. 1 in the 2A and has one of the state’s top players in 6-foot-8 Texas A&M commit Robert Williams.
Ruston has split two games with Bossier, defeating the Bearkats 60-44 last month.
If Ruston defeats BTW (4-6) in the first round, the Bearcats will face Fair Park (12-3) in the quarterfinals.
AT BOSSIER HIGH
Mansfield vs. Northwood, 4
Ruston vs. BTW, 5:30
New Living Word vs. Huntington, 7
Green Oaks vs. Benton, 8:30
Natchitoches Central vs. Green Oaks-Benton winner, 4
Fair Park vs. Ruston-BTW winner, 5:30
Bossier vs. Mansfield-Northwood winner, 7
North Caddo vs. New Living Word-Huntington winner, 8:30
Semifinals, 7 and 8:30
Third place, 6
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com