Alton’s Lavonte Hobbs (15) takes a jump shot against Edwardsville during the ‘13-14 season. Hobbs and the Redbirds will start the season at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. Northwest Academy in the Alton Tip-Off Classic.
Bright lights, several spots. The area guys are poised to start the prep basketball season next week. Alton is playing host to a five-team tournament. Civic Memorial is cast in a five-team one with rotating venues. And Marquette Catholic, Roxana and East Alton-Wood River are headed to an arduous 18-team event at Metro East Lutheran in Edwardsville.
Here’s the local look for the five River Bend teams:
Alton Tip-Off Classic
The Redbirds, winners of 22 games last season, have high hopes again this year and those expectations begin in their round-robin tourney.
Alton is idle Monday, then plays Northwest Academy of St. Louis at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Jacksonville at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. In addition, the fourth annual Alton Athletics Hall of Fame class will be enshrined at halftime of the Jacksonville game.
It’s Alton clashing with Vashon of St. Louis at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Chatham Glenwood at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The tourney opens Monday with two games, including Northwest meeting Vashon at 7:30 p.m. at AHS.
“It should be a competitive tournament,” Redbirds’ coach Eric Smith said. “We’ve added Chatham Glenwood to the field this year and they should be pretty good.”
Smith added: “What I like about the tournament is that we will play two teams with similar styles. And two others with fairly similar styles.”
SIUE-bound Carlos Anderson, 6-foot-7 Bryan Hudson, heading to Missouri on a baseball scholarship, plus Darrius Edwards, figure to spur the Redbirds.
This monster 18-team event features six pools of three teams, followed by bracket play, including the Gold one that will determine the champion.
Southwestern is seeded first, followed by defending champion Waterloo Gibault.
Marquette, seeded third, is cast in Pool C with New Athens and Staunton. Roxana and East Alton-Wood River are paired together in Pool D with Freeburg. Mike Stimac should pace the Oilers. The Explorers, Class 3A regional champs last season and winners of 22 games, are rebuilding following the graduation of top gun Deion Lavender. He’s playing at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
“I’m looking forward to it and see how it goes,” Shells’ coach Mark Briggs said. “It will help get our kids’ feet wet. We have some kids with some varsity experience and some with no varsity experience.”
The Shells won it two years ago in defeating Gibault. But it was a 10-team tourney then. Eight teams have been added for action in two gymnasiums, including the main Hooks Gym.
Cleveland ROTC of St. Louis, Dupo, Gillespie, Morrisonville, Christ Our Rock, Valmeyer, Litchfield, Bunker Hill and Marissa round out the large field. Freeburg is seeded fourth, followed by MELHS and Litchfield.
The Explorers open with Staunton at 5:30 p.m. Monday. Roxana and EA-WR are idle the first day, then square off against each other at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Marquette doesn’t play the second day. Pool play continues Wednesday before bracket competition kicks in Friday.
Stove Top Stuffing Tournament
The five-team, round-robin event with the precious name seems up for grabs. CM, led by 6-8 senior and Central Missouri State recruit Jakob Lowrance, should compete for the title. The Eagles open with Taylorville in a 7:30 p.m. game Monday at CM.
Triad, Granite City and Nokomis complete the field. Nokomis is at Granite City at 7:30 p.m. Monday. The Knights entertain CM at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, while Nokomis goes to Taylorville.
The Eagles are idle Wednesday, then play at Granite City on Friday and Saturday. CM tangles with Nokomis at 6 p.m. Friday and the host Warriors at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. All figured, the Eagles will play four games. CM will welcome the tourney finals in 2016. Nokomis has the affair next year.