Decatur High girls basketball coach Brad Boy has searched far and wide, putting together a quality field for the 23rd annual Decatur Orthopaedic Clinic Classic that tips off Wednesday at 11 a.m.. Finals set for Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The well-known tournament, known for the past 22 years as the River City Classic, carries the name of its main sponsor this year, and Boy said the field is as strong as ever, boasting some of the state’s top teams.
“To go out and compete in a top-notch tournament like this is gives you a barometer, and hopefully you learn some lessons that will help you come postseason time,” he said.
Ten of 14 teams are returning participants.
Class 6A No. 4 Bob Jones is new to the field and will have a first-round bye along with host Decatur, in the interest of teams traveling to participate in the tournament.
“I gave us a bye simply because teams come here to play and I want to give them every opportunity to get games in,” Boy said.
Austin will face Class 6A No. 7 Carver-Montgomery in the first-round nightcap, scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
Also from The Daily’s coverage area, defending tournament champion and Class 5A No. 2 Hartselle, 4A No. 5 Lawrence County and Tanner, will use the three-day event to face some top competition over the holiday break.
In addition to the prominent local teams, Boy said he was also in talks with teams from California, Utah and Rhode Island, and that a squad from Wisconsin planned to be in the mix before last-minute scheduling conflicts.
It’s all part of continuing to build the already stellar reputation of the tournament that former Decatur head coach Mike Smith made renowned and Boy has seen grow in his 12 years as Smith’s assistant and now second-year as the Lady Red Raiders’ head coach.
“I want to get to the point where we have at least one team from really far away,” Boy said. “It gives people an extra incentive to come and get to play some different teams they wouldn’t normally see.”
Boy said favorites in the tournament include last year’s winner, Hartselle, along with Bob Jones, 5A No. 6 Wenonah, and Austin, which finished fourth in last week’s Huntsville Times Ladies Classic.
He added that the brackets feature some exciting matchups, pitting top teams against each other.
“If Wenonah beats Grissom on Day 1, (Wenonah/Bob Jones) would be a great matchup on Thursday,” Boy said.
Anticipation of top-team matchups will likely drive the field and bring the fans, but Boy can’t help but hope that his Lady Red Raiders also make a good showing as the tournament’s host.
“We talked about how we are the host, and we want to defend our home court,” Boy said. “This tournament carries a lot of tradition with it, and we have certainly talked to our girls about that. It should be some great competition.”