Prep basketball: Doc Edwards Invitational boasts strong fields

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As usual, Airline’s Doc Edwards Invitational basketball tournament boasts strong fields.
The tournament, sponsored by Willis-Knight Health System, begins Saturday. After a break Sunday, the event continues Monday and concludes Wednesday.
For the first time in several years, the consolation, third-place and championship games will be played at Airline instead of the CenturyLink Center.
Financial concerns are one reason for the move. Another reason is that a high school gym should provide a much better basketball atmosphere on the final day.
There have been good turnouts for the championship games, but the consolation and third-place games have been played before small crowds. Airline officials expect a packed gym for the finals Wednesday night and advise fans to arrive early in order to get a seat.
The 16-team boys field includes most of Bossier City-Shreveport’s top teams. The only top area team not in the field is North Caddo.
Southwood defeated Byrd 86-69 in last year’s title game and both are back.
The Cowboys (11-3) and the Jackets (7-5) are off to solid starts.
Defending 1-5A champ Byrd, which lost several key players off last year’s 5A semifinal team to graduation, had a five-game winning streak snapped last week, falling to Bossier 48-30.
Defending District 1-4A champion Fair Park (8-3) is another title contender.
Captain Shreve (6-7), which has played a tough schedule, has one of the area’s top players in guard Toronco Loston.
Bossier (9-5) appears to be Bossier Parish’s best hope for a title. The Bearkats’ victory over Byrd was their ninth in the last 11 games.
The 12-team girls field features two undefeated teams — two-time defending Class 2A state champion North Caddo (16-0) and Red River (18-0), which is coming off a championship in the Gibsland Bank Minden Holiday Classic.
The Lady Rebels and Lady Bulldogs are on opposite sides of the bracket.
There will be a new girls champion. Mansfield, which defeated Airline 54-45 in last year’s championship game, is not in the field.
Southwood (13-5), which lost to North Caddo 43-41 on Dec. 8, could also contend for the title. Benton (11-6), led by senior guard Brandy Harris, is another team to watch.
Bossier (11-3) has already won three tournaments this season. The Lady Kats face Captain Shreve (10-4) in what could be one of the best first-round games.
Benton takes on Green Oaks (1-11) in the first round. The Lady Tigers will face Airline (6-9), which received a first-round bye, with a win.
Plain Dealing (10-4) faces Woodlawn (4-8) in the first round and will play Southwood in the quarterfinals with a win.

SATURDAY’S FIRST ROUND GAMES
BOYS
At Airline
Airline vs. Many, 5:30
Captain Shreve vs. Mansfield, 7
Byrd vs. Green Oaks, 8:30
At Benton High School
Southwood vs. Northwood, 5:30
Benton vs. Red River, 8:30
At Benton Middle School
Parkway vs. Fair Park, 4
Bossier vs. North Webster, 5:30
Huntington vs. Plain Dealing, 8:30

GIRLS
At Airline
Bossier vs. Captain Shreve, 4
At Benton High School
Plain Dealing vs. Woodlawn, 4
Benton vs. Green Oaks, 7
At Benton Middle School
Byrd vs. Huntington, 7

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com