More than 60 basketball players from the area converged at Meridian Elementary School June 1 and 2 for the 1st Annual Bobcat Hoopfest.
Eight teams played games all day June 1 and into the night on the 2nd, with the Championship game started at 8:30 p.m.
The final game of the tournament showcased the red team against the blue team. The red team had local players such as Isiah Jones, RJ Williams, DJ Weldon, Jared Staples, and former SIU player Nick Evans.
Darius Brown, formerly of Cairo, also played for the red team. Brown will join Josh “Joddy” Jones at Odessa College in the fall.
The blue team had players from outside the Pulaski County area but had several talented high school athletes.
The Kissing Brothers from Crab Orchard High School were three big players for the blue team. The three brothers each scored over 1,500 points in their high school careers. Youngest brother Ben scored over 2,300 and has the school record for points at Crab Orchard.
After 40 minutes of competitive play, the red team came away with the victory 49-45.
Red teams Ben Kissing led both teams in scoring with 28 in the final but his older brother Ray was the talk of the tournament.
The blue team rallied behind their leading scorer Isaih Jones who had 12. Nick Evans had 11 while DJ Weldon had back to back three point baskets to finish with 6.
A bigger story than the championship was the condition of the playing surface. It was very wet. Players fell countless time and luckily no one came away with any injuries. The location of the tournament and the playing surface could be a concern in the coming years of the Bobcat Hoopfest.
There were many more memorable performances from the weekend; Josh Jones had 33 points and 13 rebounds in a game for his team.
The money raised from the tournament will go to the Meridian Elementary school to purchase new athletic uniforms.
This was a tournament that was run well and will continue to be a success for many years to come. Congratulations to all the teams that participated in this competitive tournament.
–Tyler Dixon can be reached at (618)-734-4242