RHS Thanksgiving tourney tips off Friday
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
RUSSELLVILLE - When Russellville girls basketball coach James Bostick first conceived of organizing a Thanksgiving tournament, he cautiously hoped to bring in about half a dozen teams.
Little did he know that Hazlewood coach Darren Liles was thinking about putting together a tournament of his own.
"When I called Coach Liles to invite him to play in our tournament, he told me he was in the process of doing something similar," Bostick said. "We talked about it a little, and he suggested that we join together and have one big tournament, since we have the facilities at Russellville necessary to pull something like this off. I thought it was a great idea."
The result is a 12-team, two-day Thanksgiving extravaganza that will take place on Friday and Saturday at Russellville High School. Several of the premiere girls teams in north Alabama are participating, including perennial powers Deshler, Hazlewood, Waterloo, Hatton and Lawrence County.
"We've got some hosses coming in," said Bostick, in his third season at Russellville. "We're talking about some of the elite girls programs in the state of Alabama. These schools are full of tradition. It's going to a great tournament."
Bostick's reasons for organizing the tournament were simple.
"We want to really get girls basketball going strong here at Russellville," he said. "And the way you do that is to play the best teams you can find. Tournaments like this can do nothing but help your program grow."
If top-notch competition was Bostick's goal, consider it accomplished.
"We tip things off on Friday morning with Deshler against Austin, and that tells you all you need to know about the level of competition," said Bostick, who guided Belgreen to the Class 1A state championship in 2001-02 before leaving for Russellville. "Deshler is state championship material, and Austin always has a quality team. Then you've got Waterloo, who's got everybody back from last year when they won something like 19 games. Hatton has the Rutherford girl [senior center Amber], so you know they'll be tough.
"Brooks is in the tournament, and they have a really strong team this year. Mars Hill is coming, and they've got a talented team, too. Then, of course, there's Lawrence County, who has as much tradition as anybody around here. We've got first-class programs taking part in this tournament."
Russellville won't be the only Franklin County team in the tournament. The Phil Campbell Lady Bobcats will also be participating.
Rogers and Lexington round out the field of 12.
Russellville's first game in the tournament will be against Rogers on Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the middle school gym.
Phil Campbell will tip off on Friday at 1 p.m. in the high school gym against the winner between Waterloo and Hatton.
Bostick said that organizing and hosting a tournament of this magnitude would not be possible without the help of many sponsors.
"We absolutely could not do this without our sponsors," he said. "My girls and I would like to tell them thank you very much for all they have done to help us put this tournament together. I think we're going to have some big crowds, and I'm looking forward to an outstanding tournament."
Bostick has high hopes of what this tournament might become in the near future.