January 26, 2011 Edition

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Lawrence County
Tournament is distinctive

John Bland
Publisher

The 2011 version of the Lawrence County Basketball Tournament begins Saturday at Walnut Ridge High School's Sharum Gymnasium and is scheduled to end Saturday, Feb. 5. Some of the coaching staff at WRHS asked me earlier this week about the history of the tournament.

It is possible that our county has the oldest countywide basketball tournament in the state. The main question is what year did the tournament begin?

Another question is if many or any other counties in the state now have a similar county tournament. Lawrence County is unique in still having five schools that have teams that are generally competitive with one another.

Before Clover Bend merged with Hoxie and Strawberry and Lynn merged to form Hillcrest, we had seven schools fielding teams in the tournament. Before that, there could have been more, with Egypt and Portia possibly having teams that played in the tournament.

An interesting aspect of the tournament is that the schools are usually in different conferences and often don't play one another until the county tournament. Presently, the five schools play in four conferences with three divisions, 1A, 2A and 3A represented. Only Hillcrest and Sloan-Hendrix are in the same conference.

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Anyone who has ever played in or witnessed the county tournament will have vivid memories of some of the past games. Many of the games have been quite intense, especially in final and semi-final games and among both the players and fans alike.

As fans from all over the county gather, the tension of the gym becomes like that of a pressure cooker.

This year's tournament will feature divisions of seventh grade, junior high and senior high boys and girls. Competitive and exciting games are guaranteed as each team strives for bragging rights as the county champs.

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If anyone has pertinent information regarding the history of the county tournament, please contact me at The TD, 886-2464, or by e-mailing jbland@thetd.com. After the tournament, on Feb. 9, The TD will have a special section with complete tournament coverage.

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