A longtime power and an emerging one, both perfect on the season so far, will meet in the Rumble in the Bluff tournament, hosted by Sam Houston, tonight when the Fairview Panthers meet the LaGrange Gators.
The teams are opposite in about every way outside of the perfect starts. The Class B Panthers (21-0) hold the state's longest streak of consecutive state titles and are fond of lighting up scoreboards with its stable of outside shooters. The Panthers have 10 games with 89 or more points scored.
The Class 4A Gators are seeking their first trip to the state tournament in 15 seasons — Fairview has won 9 state championships in that span — and prefer to win with defense, having allowed every opponent to 47 points or less so far this season.
Class size has mattered little to Fairview, which has four wins over Class 5A schools so far. The Panthers have an arsenal of outside shooters, with all five starters (Laynee and Rylee Jinks, Sassy Reeves, Maggie Manuel and Rylee Cloud) having averaged double digit scoring in a previous season. Manuel averaged 20 points per game and earned all state honors two seasons ago while Cloud scored a team-high 18 ppg last season.
The Gators have a pair of guards who have scored more than 1,000 career points in Aasia Sam and Nadailyn Carrier and a multifaceted star in Jeriah Warren, a 6-footer who plays point guard on offense and wreaks havoc on defense by using her size to create steals and blocks.
The Gators are coming off a 43-36 win at Sulphur Monday night. Warren scored 16 and Sam added 13 in the win over their former district rival.
The Rumble in the Bluff kicks off a busy week of tournament basketball in the area. Among the highlights are boys tournaments at DeRidder and Barbe as well as a coed tournament in Iowa.
Longtime state powers Natchitoches Central and Peabody lead the field at the Barbe/Billy Navarre/Iberia Bank Holiday Hoops tournament. They will by joined by the host Bucs and fellow local teams South Beauregard and Jennings. The tournament starts Thursday and continues through Saturday.
The Iowa/Mallett Builders tournament will feature Welsh, Lake Arthur, Sulphur, Sam Houston, Cecilia, Hathaway and Acadiana in the boys bracket and David Thibodaux, Alexandria, Jennings, Hathaway, Welsh, Rapides and Barbe in the girls bracket.
North Caddo, St. Louis, Leesville, Washington-Marion, Rosepine, Florien and Lake Charles College Prep make up the DeRidder field.