By Gene Phelps | Daily Journal
The state’s top-ranked Class 5A team – Starkville – and the state’s No. 2-rated 3A team – Booneville – will headline this season’s annual Kiwanis Hotbed Classic in New Albany.
The 21st edition of the eight-game, one-day tournament is scheduled for Jan. 21 at Memorial Gym.
“We believe Booneville-Starkville is the best matchup,” said Hotbed director Mike Nobles. “Starkville may be the best team in the state. I’m sure Booneville, last year’s state champion, can match up with them.”
Booneville (15-2) is led by guard Keldrick Lesley and forward Kenny Paul Geno while Starkville (14-2) counters with Mississippi State signee Gavin Ware, a 6-foot-8 post player, and guard Jacolby Ware.
The host New Albany Bulldogs, with 6-9 center Moses Kingsley, play Pearl with 6-6 guard Twymond Howard, who’s averaging 26 points and 12 rebounds.
Tupelo plays Alabama’s No. 2-ranked 4A team, Calera, with its nation’s top 50 point guard, 6-2 Deondra Haynes, a Tennessee Tech commitment.
“Tupelo’s Tupelo, they’ve got good athletes,” Nobles said.
Another headliner features 2A power Baldwyn against defending 2A state champion Piney Woods, now a 1A school.
“Baldwyn’s one of those teams who’s always there,” Nobles said. “They’ve got great guards and depth. They can play with anybody.”
The Hotbed lineup, as always, features all the county schools: East Union, Ingomar, Myrtle and West Union.
“If it wasn’t for the local teams and fans, and the support they give, this wouldn’t be possible,” Nobles said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
The admission for the day of basketball, which tips off at 10 a.m., is $6.
“It’s a bargain,” Nobles said. “Every dollar we raise goes back to the community.”
KIWANIS HOTBED CLASSIC
Saturday, Jan. 21, New Albany
10 a.m. – West Union vs. TCPS
11:15 a.m. – Ingomar vs. East Union
12:30 p.m. – Myrtle vs. Mooreville
2 p.m. – Water Valley vs. Houlka
3:30 p.m. – Baldwyn vs. Piney Woods
5 p.m. – Tupelo vs. Calera, Ala.
6:30 p.m. – New Albany vs. Pearl
8 p.m. – Booneville vs. Starkville