Eighteen gams over three days featuring teams from five cities outside Phillips County and four schools from within Phillips County will give basketball lovers a holiday feast when the Helena-West Helena Invitational, sponsored by the Helena-West Helena Advertising and Promotions Commission tips off December 20.
For the 10th edition of this holiday extravaganza, the field is larger than ever with seven boys and girls teams participating and offers a balanced mixture of local flavor with talented teams from around the state.
In addition to four schools participating from Phillips County, the tournament also features teams from as far north as Blytheville, as far south as Star City, and as far west as Magnet Cove.
CHS Athletic Director Russell Smith was elated with this year’s field and grateful for the continuing support from the HWH A and P Commission and the HWH Booster Club. He said, “We have continually worked to build a first-class tournament for our community to share in as the Christmas Holiday approaches and I believe we have that this year. We have the largest field ever and we have balance between teams from the area and from around the various regions of the state. We have schools from classes 1A through 5A. It’s an excellent field and we get a chance to showcase Cougar Country and the community of Helena-West Helena.
He continued, “ I also want to say thank you to the A and P Commission and to our Booster Club. The A and P Commission’s sponsorship is essential to making this event a success and the planning and legwork done by our Booster Club volunteers is invaluable to making sure we are ready to go when the tournament begins. They are among the first here and the last to leave. They take care of managing hospitality, concessions, media relations and countless other things. I also can’t say thank you enough to our normal gamed staff who volunteer their time for this event taking tickets, handling security, and taking care of things at the scorer’s table.”
Booster Club President Betty Brimley spoke of the importance of the event for the community and for the funds raised that are put back into the extracurricular programs of this district. She said, “The proceeds of this tournament help our efforts to provide lettermen jackets and sweaters, along with other athletic awards, to our athletes, band members, and choir members. It also helps us to fund trips to summer camps, occasional equipment needs, etc.” She continued, “It’s also an important event for our fans and our community. Helena-West Helena produces some of the stat’s elite basketball talent and it always has. We have a school on the rise with improving facilities. It’s important for our fans to have a chance to see great basketball over the holidays and for us to showcase the wonderful things that are happening with our school.”
The tournament begins each day’s slate of six games at 2:15 p.m. Admission will be $5. The first game will feature the Lady Bears of Barton vs the Dollarway Lady Cardinals. The first men’s game pits the Blue Hornets of KIPP Delta vs Dollarway.
Other teams in the field are from Star City, Magnet Cove, Blytheville, Marianna, Marvell, and Helena-West Helena Central.