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Teams to battle for top spot

Sixteen to compete in Elida Tiger Invitational Basketball Tournament.


December 7, 2017

ELIDA — Sixteen teams will compete in this weekend’s Elida Tiger Invitational Basketball Tournament, which runs today through Saturday. Eight boys and eight girls teams will compete to win their respective brackets, in what is considered to be one of the top tournaments in the area.

Several nearby 1A-District 4 rivals, plus a couple of 2A programs, will battle it out in what can be described as an early season litmus test for teams. “Just having these area schools here, you see a lot of old and new rivals go against one another,” Elida athletic director and girls basketball coach Jade Isler said.

“It’s been one of the most competitive tournaments the last four years. This tournament has produced (several) state champions in 1A and 2A, like us, Melrose and Tatum.” Isler’s Tigers, in fact, are going for their eighth-straight 1A title, while schools like Melrose and Tatum have won multiple 2A titles in recent years, before the former dropped down to 1A with Elida.

The Elida tournament has been around for nearly a decade now, and has also attracted schools from as far as Texas. Isler went on to say that because all of the games are played in the main gym to highlight every school, the number of teams has to be limited for the tournament, and typically, there isn’t a ton of turnover as far as the teams that compete every year.

Isler’s Tigers (3-1) and rival Melrose (3-1) are No. 1 and 2 in the state, and make for an intriguing girls bracket. Today’s’ girls games include Melrose vs. Dexter (9 a.m.), Dora vs. Floyd (noon), Tatum vs. Clovis Christian (3 p.m.) and Hagerman vs. Elida (6 p.m.).

Like the boy’s bracket, those winners will advance to a winner’s bracket, with semifinals games held on Friday. Those winners will play in the girls championship at 6 p.m. on Saturday, while the losers play in the third-place game at 3. The loser’s bracket, meanwhile, has a Consolation game at noon on Saturday.

For Isler, the tournament is not only challenging, but it’s also a great way to bring exposure to Elida athletics. “It’s a huge fundraiser for our athletics program,” Isler said. “Bringing in area schools, including larger schools, is great for our tournament.

“Dora is a high-ranked top 10 team in 2A, us and Melrose are 1 and 2, Floyd is top 10. So, it’s really a bracket where you can’t overlook anybody on any night. (My girls) really just look to play really tough people early in the season. We want to see where we’re lacking at, and what weaknesses of ours can be exposed. We want to get ready to make a run late in the year, and we’re not afraid to play anybody in any class.”

Floyd (2-2) boys coach Steve Foust shares the same sentiment about playing tough district rivals in the Elida tournament. His Broncos will play Tatum at 4:30 p.m. today, while Melrose plays Lovington at 10:30 a.m., followed by Dora vs. Hobbs (1:30 p.m.), and then following Floyd-Tatum is a 7:30 p.m. game between host Elida and Clovis Christian.

Thursday’s winners will play semifinals games at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, while the third-place game will take place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The boys championship will follow the girls with an approximate start time of 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, while the loser’s consolation game will be played earlier in the day at 1:30 p.m.

For Foust, facing district opponents early in the season has its challenges, but those challenges are ones that his players are completely ready to tackle. “Early in the year, the kids are excited to see what the district looks like,” Foust explained.

“Tatum always plays hard, we played Dora five times last year, and Melrose four times. They all have great players and coaches and for us, it sends a strong message (if we play well and/or beat them). Every time we’ve been in this tournament, there’s a lot of people at these games, and there’s not a lot of driving with all these schools being so close. Just a lot of great fan bases.”


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