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From one tournament to the next, we’re shifting gears from the Union County basketball tournament to this weekend’s Hotbed Classic. This is the 20th year for the event, and in honor of the milestone, event coordinator Mike Nobles is bringing in 20 talented teams, including some of the best from Alabama. Also unique to this year is a girls game, which will feature state runners-up from 2010.
“We decided to do this last spring after New Albany girls went undefeated and to the state finals, we thought ‘We should have had them this year.’” Nobles said. “We didn’t add them because this is the 20th year, I just thought about doing something different, and Bob Jones is a very good team out of Alabama.”
The Patriots and Lady Patriots are traveling from Madison, Ala., and along with a talented girls team, the defending Alabama 6A boys champion is coming as well to take on the Bulldogs in their afternoon match-up.
Bob Jones brings a boys squad, currently ranked 11th in Alabama and is led by Levi Randolph, the nation’s 29th ranked player who is committed to play college ball at Alabama.
Along with the Bob Jones squads, Hillcrest out of Tuscaloosa will make a return appearance this year. Boasting three division one prospects, Hillcrest will take on Tunica Rosa Fort, which is currently undefeated and the team that knocked New Albany out of the state playoffs last season. Hillcrest is also among the elite in Alabama, currently one spot behind Bob Jones in the state rankings.
Once again, each county school will be featured in the day-long tournament, starting with West Union and Houlka at 9 a.m. East Union, Myrtle and Ingomar will follow, and the Falcons will have an interesting match-up, taking on Durant in a rematch of last year’s 1A state semifinal.
Olive Branch out of 6A will follow, taking on Mendenhall at 2 p.m., and that game will precede the highly anticipated girls game at 3:15 p.m.
The Bulldogs and Patriots will follow the girls match-up at 4:30 p.m, and the nightcap will start with the Rosa Fort-Hillcrest game at 6 p.m., followed by Tupelo and Piney Woods, and the final game of the day will feature Acie Vance and Ripley against Mississippi State signee David Gardner and Okolona at 8:45 p.m.
Last year’s tournament brought a lot of excitement, and a very packed Memorial Gymnasium, and with little doubt, I’m sure the Kiwanis Club will have another successful day this year. Be sure to take some time and support your teams at the Hotbed this weekend!