For the 10th season, teams converged on Robertsdale High School for the Pre-Thanksgiving Tournament where Golden Bear head coach Marshall Davis has set up the competition to serve as a recruiting …
For the 10th season, teams converged on Robertsdale High School for the Pre-Thanksgiving Tournament where Golden Bear head coach Marshall Davis has set up the competition to serve as a recruiting tool for players mainly on teams from Mobile and Baldwin County.
“We started this 10 years ago, No. 1 to do something for the kids,” Davis said in a Nov. 23 interview. “We said we wanted to do something for the kids to give them college exposure from this area because our problem is that it’s all about football down here.”
After the football state semifinals the day after Thanksgiving, and without any Baldwin County teams in the Super 7 state championships this week, it’s officially basketball season and some of the top talent was once again running up and down the hardwood in Robertsdale.
One of the biggest names on the rosters that weekend included Naomi Jones of the Jackson Lady Aggies, the 6’ 3” senior center who committed to the University of Alabama Oct. 27.
Out of the eight teams in each bracket, five men’s teams and four women’s teams came from the Alabama Gulf Coast to compete against other teams like Sumter Central and Smith’s Station in the men’s bracket as well as John Curtis and Southern University Lab from Louisiana in the women’s bracket.
All of that led to solid competition where Davis estimated around 18 of the 24 overall games were decided by 10 points or less. As has been the trend, he also expects to see many of these teams in February’s postseason.
“We have a lot of teams out of the tournament every year either going to the elite eight, final four or winning state championships,” Davis said. “Most of these teams go on to make the playoffs so you always have a high success rate and you can get a lot of college coaches here. If they’re not there, they logon to the NFHS Network to catch the games.”
Even if that was enough to convince another coach to see what the Pre-Thanksgiving Tournament is all about next year, the field is already at capacity.
“The tournament is already filled up for next year. I had teams talking with me way out in advance and they pay an entry fee to get in,” Davis said. “We have a great hospitality room run by our fans and we’ve got the booster club involved so it’s an overall great time. It’s all about the kids and they love it too.”
Of course, it’s also a timely opportunity for coaches to check in on their teams with multiple games in a short time span.
“I feel like the kids have something to do before the holiday, as well as the spectators that come to watch them play, and I think it’s a good measuring tool for the coaches to get an idea about their team going into the middle of the season,” Davis said. “We’re still missing two kids that start for us, but that time gave us as coaches an opportunity to see the younger kids step up and that happened for other coaches as well.”
Davis said his Robertsdale squad competed well and has been playing solid defense despite allowing the most points it has all season to the eventual tournament runner-up.
“Right now we’re 4-3 at the break, defensively I think we are near where we want to be. We gave up 53 points to Jackson on Monday and that was the most points we’ve given up in a loss,” the coach said. “I feel like once we get healthy and get everybody on one accord, we also have to start to gel at the right time because that’s what really matters. The right time is really in January so we’ll take the next 10 games or so before the Christmas break and continue to get better.”