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(Rick Hickman / American Press)

(Rick Hickman / American Press)

Barbe hoops tournament loaded with talented teams

Last Modified: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 6:49 PM

By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Seven local schools and one of the state’s traditional powers headline the field of this year’s Barbe Holiday Hoops basketball tournament.

Defending champion Peabody returns to the tournament and is joined by local schools LaGrange, Hamilton Christian, Westlake, Leesville, Sulphur, Iowa and the host Bucs. Rounding out the field are Morgan City, Cecilia, Westgate, Comeaux, Mansfield and O.P. Walker, which will be making its second trip to Lake Charles after opening the season at the St. Louis tournament. The Chargers finished third in that tournament and beat St. Augustine last week.

Peabody beat Barbe in the championship game last year and went on to win the Class 4A championship. The Warhorses lost seven players from last season but opened the season with 10 straight wins before losing to Washington-Marion Tuesday night.

“There is a lot of parity in the field, we will have two of the top ten teams in Class 5A, including the number one team in Westgate,” said Barbe head coach Carl Klein. “In 4A, we have numbers one (Peabody), four (Leesville) and ten (O.P. Walker) in the power rankings. That’s five quality powerhouses. Lots of teams that will be hear have shown signs of being very good. The local talent is of a good caliber this year. Most of the teams are off to a good start, it should make for a great tournament.”

Returning all-state players in the tournament are Comeaux forward Julian Thomas and guard Hayward Register, a UL-Lafayette signee; O.P. Walker guard Tyree Griffin, Barbe guard Nick Burks, Westlake forward Jacory Washington and Mansfield guards Verian Hunter and Brandon Campbell.

“With the level of competition here, it brings a playoff-type atmosphere,” Klein said. It helps you down the stretch, it enables you to have had some experience in close games and trying to finish them off.”

The tournament kicks off with seven games today and will continue through Saturday night.

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