Previewing the Hotbed Classic

It’s the little things that make the Hotbed Classic unique and brings in some of the state’s elite year after year.
The latest installment of the tournament, sponsored by the New Albany Kiwanis Club, will showcase some of the area’s premier teams outside of Union County, Baldwyn and Booneville, along with the five county schools and Calera from Alabama.
While the Baldwyn-Piney Woods showdown at 3:30 is sure to garner a lot of interest, the premier match-up in this year’s classic has defending 3A champion Booneville taking on 5A powerhouse Starkville at 8 p.m.
“Booneville doesn’t have that true big man, but they have great depth and guards, and Starkville has great guards,” tournament chairman Mike Nobles said. “They have similar styles and lots of depth, and the only difference is Starkville is 5A and Booneville is 3A.”
“Both Piney Woods and Baldwyn were in 2A last year and were supposed to meet in the state finals, but Baldwyn was upset. Now Piney Woods is in 1A, and we want them to have the chance to play one another. They’re both athletic, and it’s going to be a great match-up.”
New Albany will play in the 6:30 slot, taking on 5A Pearl, which is 19-2 on the year and features 6-6 point-guard Twymond Howard, who leads the team in scoring, averaging 25 points and 12 rebounds per game.
“That was just a natural match-up because New Albany is athletic, and with Moses and everyone else they have, they can match up with anyone, athletic wise,” Nobles said. “From an athlete standpoint, we thought this would be a good match-up.”
Nobles noted the success of the tournament in previous years is why great competition, like Calera, continue to participate.
“Coaches like coming here, because we treat them right, and it’s the little things we do that make this tournament unique,” he said. “We try to equally match the teams up, and we give them a chance to play teams they wouldn’t normally play, so it’s like a playoff atmosphere before the playoffs.”