Maumelle and North Little Rock high schools are both hosting state tournaments this year and preparations are underway at both schools to get ready.
Maumelle is hosting the 5A state tournament and it will start next Tuesday, Feb. 27 while North Little Rock is hosting Class 7A and it will start on Wednesday, Feb. 28.
North Little Rock athletics director Gary Davis said the school was still looking for donations and volunteers.
“Food donations for hospitality are always welcome and always a need,” he said. District employee Randall Bradley is serving as coordinator and can be reached at 541-8090.
This will be North Little Rock’s first time to host the state tournament in more than a decade. North Little Rock was scheduled to host the tournament in 2015, but construction at the school left parking in a disarray and it was moved to Conway.
“Parking is not ideal,” Davis said candidly. “Mainly because the state tournament should not start a game before 4 [p.m.]. We do have a plan to park the fans, visiting buses and even provide shuttle services.”
If one is interested in volunteering, the district’s Julia Drake is coordinating and can be reached at 771-8013 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have volunteer opportunities to assist in the concession stand, hospitality room, welcome center, spirit team check in, team hosts,” Drake said. “We have different duties, shifts available. They just need to contact me and tell me [when] they are available and we will put them to work.
Drake added, “This event will take hundreds of people. We are asking our high school students, parents, community, churches, civic organizations and everyone else to volunteer. “
After Tuesday night’s games, North Little Rock will be a No. 1 seed and will have a first-round bye. The Charging Wildcats will start 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. On the girls side of the bracket, seedings are still up in the air, as North Little Rock, Fort Smith Northside and Conway are in a three-way tie, with one regular season game remaining this Friday.
On the boys side, Arkansas signee and Fort Smith Northside senior Isaiah Joe will be a player to watch as his Grizzlies look to defend their title, while North Little Rock’s Moses Moody, one of the country’s best sophomores, will be another. On the girls side, North Little Rock’s Yo’Myris Morris has signed with TCU and Fayetteville sophomore Sasha Goforth is a top prospect and was the state championship game Most Valuable Player last season as a freshman.
While hosting the tournaments present some logistical challenges, they also come with some benefits.
Ashley Hight with the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce said the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau generated a report that estimated the economic impact of hosting was worth more than $250,000 in direct sales to teams and fans, while it was also a boon to local hotels with an estimated 500 overnight attendees each day.
When indirect numbers are added in, the economic benefit gets closer to half a million dollars.
Alicia Gillen, executive director with the Maumelle Area Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an e-mail, “We anticipate this will be HUGE for local businesses.”
Maumelle Mayor Mike Watson agreed.
“The tournament will provide an economic impact to our restaurants,” Watson said. “Possibly the hotels as 32 teams and their fans will be coming to Maumelle at least once over a 5-day period.”
Maumelle’s tournament will feature more teams and more games with the 16 best boys and girls in 5A squaring off, but not Maumelle as the both the boys and girls teams lost in the first round of district tournament play in Farmington on Tuesday night.
Indeed, with teams coming in from all four corners of the state, Maumelle should be hopping and the basketball should also be really, really good.
Particularly on the boys side as traditional powers Little Rock Parkview and defending state champ Mills both compete in 5A. Parkview’s Ethan Henderson has signed with Arkansas while Mills is the state’s top ranked team in the latest maxpreps.com poll.
Both tournaments will end on Saturday, March 3 with the finals for all classifications headed to Hot Springs for the finals starting on Thursday, March 8.
The schedule of games for the 7A and 5A tournaments will be announced Monday, March 5.