The people who bring you the Rumble on the Ridge in Forrest City keep thinking they won't be able to top their previous year's high school basketball tournament, but then go right back out and do it.
That's the case again this year as organizers not only have another bevy of great teams, but a Thanksgiving night matchup at 8 p.m. featuring two of the nation's best prep stars in North Carolina-bound Tyler Hansbrough of Poplar Bluff (Mo.) and LSU-bound Tasmin Mitchell of Denham Springs, La.
"From top to bottom it's the best field we have ever had," Rumble director Bill Baxter said. "And how about that first-night matchup? I know Bob Gibbons of Hoopmasters had them ranked as the No. 1 (Hansbrough) and 2 (Mitchell) players in the country at one point (as juniors) and most everybody has them in the top10 or so."
The Nov. 25-27 event will indeed open on Thanksgiving day with Bolivar (Tenn.) High taking on Reserve (La.) Christian at 3:30 p.m. , Richwood (La.) High battling Buffalo Island Central at 5 p.m., Jackson (Miss.) Lanier testing host Forrest City at 6:30 and the Poplar Bluff-Denham Springs capping off the day.
Play will continue with four games each on Friday and Saturday at the same times.
"Last year we brought in Pulaski Academy, one of the top teams in Arkansas, and wondered how they would stack up against these top teams from other states," Baxter said. "Turned out pretty well since they went on and won the whole thing. So I don't count out any of the eight teams."
Other top players who will be playing in the event include Lanier guard and Mississippi State commit Monta Ellis, Texas Tech commit Terry Martin and Kenneth Cooper of Richwood, Reserve Christian's Demond Carter, Denham Spring's D.J. Thomas, Arkansas State commit Brandon Ballard of Buffalo Island Central and Bolivar juniors Wayne Chism and Willie Kemp, a pair of young men the University of Arkansas is known to be keeping tabs on.
Ellis is ranked as the second-best player by The Insiders with Hansbrough the seventh-best and Mitchell at No. 17.
"Not only do we have some of the best seniors, but some of the best younger players there are out there right now coming," Baxter said. "It's going to be a great one again."
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