By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Jackson Provine, the state’s No. 4-ranked team, will battle Briarcrest Christian and University of Memphis commitment Austin Nichols in this season’s 22nd Hotbed Classic in New Albany.
Nichols, a 6-foot-8 forward, is considered a 5-star recruit.
“We thought it would be a natural fit,” Hotbed spokesman Mike Nobles said of Briarcrest’s pairing against Provine in the Jan. 26 event. “Briarcrest has a tradition of producing college players.”
This is Provine’s first trip to the Hotbed since its 1999 loss to Tupelo. Rams coach Otis Gaines was a starter in that game for the Provine Posse.
Another matchup of interest in the 8-game, one-day classic features Booneville against Piney Woods and Ole Miss commitment Dwight Coleby, a 6-9 post player.
The Blue Devils will counter with their talented Dandy Dozen forward Kenny Paul Geno.
“I think Geno has really expanded his game,” said Nobles, who is an area hoops official. “His outside shot has gotten a lot better.”
The real winner of the Hotbed will be the Union county schools, charities and organizations who promote youth activities. The Kiwanis Club now gives $5,000 in scholarships each year to students in the county.
No. 1 vs. No. 1
The state’s No. 1-ranked girls team, 6A Southaven, plays the Daily Journal’s No. 1-rated area team, 3A Ripley, at 4:20 p.m. Saturday in the Domino’s Shootout at Hickory Flat.
Earlier in the day, a 1:40 p.m., H.W. Byers’ girls, the defending 1A state champion, will play the state’s No. 2 team, Bay St. Louis.
North Pontotoc’s Kings of the Court Showdown, sponsored by Image Screen Printing, has host North Pontotoc playing Tupelo at 7:30 p.m.
“Playing this game (against Tupelo) will only make us better,” North Pontotoc coach Chris Pettit said.
At Belmont, the Lady Cardinal Challenge has an eight-game schedule, with the headliner being a 4 p.m. showdown between the Tupelo and North Pontotoc girls.
Kiwanis Hotbed Classic
Jan. 26 in New Albany
10 a.m., West Union vs. Kossuth
11:15 a.m., East Union vs. Marshall
12:30 p.m., Myrtle vs. North Pontotoc
2 p.m., Booneville vs. Piney Woods
3:30 p.m., Ingomar vs. Amory
5 p.m., Briarcrest vs. Provine
6:30 p.m., Baldwyn vs. Tupelo
8 p.m., New Albany vs. DeSoto Central