Hammond regains LHSAA girls' Top 28 hoops
BATON ROUGE – The City of Hammond outbid Lake Charles for the girls' basketball Top 28 state championship tournament on the final day of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s summer meetings here on Tuesday.
Once again, Southeastern Louisiana University will be the site of the semifinal- and final-round games in 2016 and 2017. Hammond last hosted the tournament in 2011 before it moved to Ruston and then Lake Charles.
Additional offers of $25,000 per year and the assurance that the Hammond steering committee would underwrite the cost of programs for the 28-team tournament enabled the Tangipahoa Parish city to wrest the girls’ tournament from Lake Charles. A similar committee from that city offered the LHSAA $10,000 each to retain both the boys’ and girls’ tournaments for the next two years. It “sweetened” the offer by adding another $10,000 if the LHSAA executive committee gave its approval to the bid.
Hammond had hosted the girls’ tournaments for several years but lost it when then-LHSAA executive director Kenny Henderson changed its format and opened it up for bidding.
“Hammond didn’t lose the tournament,” assistant executive director B.J. Guzzardo told the committee. “It left Hammond because we took it away from them. They did nothing wrong.”
By a show of hands, the executive committee awarded the tournament to Hammond by a 13-9 vote, showing there was still a great deal of sentiment for the Lake Area.
It wasn’t a complete loss for Lake Charles. That city will continue to host the boys’ tournament for the next two years at Burton Coliseum, where it has been played since 2014.
The executive committee granted two more years to City Park to host the state boys’ and girls’ soccer tournament. For the 11th consecutive year Tad Gormley Stadium will host the winter event. With no representation from the other bidder, Lafayette, City Park received a unanimous vote.
Kenner was the big loser in the bidding wars when the executive committee gave executive director Eddie Bonine the green light to Bonine to sign a contract with Bossier City’s CenturyLink Center to host the state wrestling tournament for the next two years, despite a passionate plea from the tournament’s head official, Clifford Strider III, and four attending wrestling coaches.
The state wrestling tournament outgrew the Pontchartrain Center’s ability to accommodate the large crowds the tournament had attracted. Bossier had hosted it in 2011 and did an outstanding job, according to LHSAA officials.
Although the bid by Bossier was accepted in January over one by the River Center in Baton Rouge, Bonine did not sign a contract because of some specific issues relating to longtime tournament director Jim Ravannack and the possible lack of equipment, and reserved Monday’s meeting to discuss it.
Ravannack’s decision to withdraw as the tournament director when Bossier City received the bid created an issue. As president of USA Wrestling and the director of Louisiana Wrestling, Ravannack owns much of the equipment vital to the tournament, including the mats, time clocks, the officials and weight management.
“I was concerned about Ravannack not returning to run the tournament,” Bonine said. “This info was not made prior to awarding it to Bossier.”
But when CenturyLink manager, Kelly Wells, assured Bonine the LHSAA could get the mats and would try to get the scoreboards and clocks from another source, Bonnaffee said he was confident that the executive committee’s decision to award the tournament to the Shreveport area was the right thing to so.
“People said in their presentation that Shreveport can get it done. The committee listened to what (Wells) had to say and was assured they could handle it. So when it came down to the bottom line, there was no change in the venue.”
Sulphur Parks and Recreation was granted an additional two-year contract for McMurry Park to host the state baseball tournament for all classes.
The cheerleading, power lifting and tennis tournaments were awarded to the City of Monroe. Cheerleading will take place at the Monroe Civic Center, the Fant-Ewing Coliseum on the UL-Monroe campus will house the boys’ and girls’ power lifting tournament, and tennis will be shared by sites in Monroe and West Monroe.
In other business, there was little discussion about reviving a proposal to add eight-man football as a sanctioned sport. Guzzardo told the committee when the LHSAA offered it last year to small schools, just six expressed interest.
And the prospect of adding bass fishing as a sport drew little comment.