15th annual Rumble offers talented field
The annual Rumble on the Ridge high school boys basketball tournament will celebrate its 15th year when it begins Thursday at Mustang Arena.
As has been the case for the past 14 tournaments, the teams will roll into town tonight for the annual pre-tournament banquet, which will be held at the Forrest City Civic Center, beginning at 6 p.m.
University of Arkansas Razorback basketball coach Mike Anderson will be the featured speaker for the banquet.
Following the banquet and the introduction of the teams and the head coaches, the public is invited to attend the three-point shootout and the slam dunk contests at Mustang Arena, which will begin between 7 and 7:30 p.m.
Admission to the competitions will be a non-perishable food item or a cash donation to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
And once again, staying with the format that has earned the tournament its lofty state and national ranking, the Rumble welcomes eight of the south’s hottest basketball teams into town for three days of basketball games at Mustang Arena, and as usual, plenty of volunteers to ensure that the tournament will have another successful run.
The subject of the Rumble volunteers will be presented center stage on Thursday when a core group of 11 people who have volunteered and worked each of the past 14 Rumble tournaments, as well as past and present members of the Forrest City Advertising and Promotion Commission, will be recognized.
“What we have accomplished with this tournament can be credited to the volunteers from year to year who have remained basically the same core group for each tournament. We have a core group of 11 people who have been involved with each tournament and this one will make the 15th,” said Rumble Executive Director Bill Baxter.
Those 11 people, as well as the 1997 Forrest City A&P members and the present A&P members, will be recognized for their efforts on Thursday, Nov. 24, the first day of the tournament.
“We plan to honor and recognize them during halftime of the Forrest City-Lee High School game,” Baxter said.
The 11 volunteers who have worked every tournament are: Joey Astin, Robert Edwards, Roy Hancock, Casey Baxter, Kevin Lewey, Rick and Beverly Nelson, Murry Cline, Fred Conley, Richard Benson and referee Ron Bellamy, who will be retiring after this year’s tournament.
Cline, who now lives out of state, continues to return each year to help with the tournament.
The 1997 A&P members are: Matt Townsend, Kem Merrell, Mark Turner, Roger Breeding, Sandra Taylor, Cecil Twillie and David Dunn as well as current A&P members Twillie, Steve Hollowell, Justin Reeves, Larry Freeman and Y.K. Patel.
Wayne Huckaba, who managed Pepsi-Co, the original corporate sponsor of the tournament, which was then called the Mt. Dew Rumble on the Ridge Classic, and the David J. Cohn family, the tournament’s current corporate sponsor, will also be recognized for their efforts.
Baxter has said for the past few months the 2011 tournament field is the best since the 2005 Rumble and possibly the best field assembled since the tournament began in 1997.
This year’s tournament will feature three Arkansas teams – the host team Forrest City Mustangs, Little Rock Hall and Sylvan Hills.
Hall and Sylvan Hills are both making their first appearances at the Rumble.
Forrest City will open against Lee high School on Thanksgiving Day at 6:30 p.m.
A pair of Louisiana teams, Scotlandville High School and Riverside Academy, both from Baton Rouge, will be in the mix, while Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi will have one entry each – Southwind, Lee and New Albany.
Southwind returns for the second consecutive year after finishing second in 2010 to champion Bossier City, La. The Jaguars are coming for one reason and one reason only – to finish what they started at last year’s tournament. They will, however, have to do it without Jarnell Stokes, one of the nation’s hottest college recruits who transferred from Memphis central to Southwind over the summer, but was ruled ineligible to play this season by the Tennessee High School Athletics Association board of control on Monday.
New Albany is making its second appearance at the Rumble, but this time under a different name. Back in the first Rumble on the Ridge in 1997, New Albany came as W.P. Daniel High School from New Albany, Miss.
The tournament features four games each of the three days – Thursday through Saturday – beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.
Saturday’s championship round of games will begin at 2 p.m., with the championship game scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
And once again this year, the Rumble will provide an array of halftime entertainment each of the three days which includes many local entertainers.
On Thursday, Trenna Cottrell of Forrest City will perform during halftime of the second game and will sing the National Anthem prior to the 6:30 p.m. game.
During halftime of Thursday’s final game, Rodney Jumper, his son 10-year-old Bret and Brodie Johnson will perform .
On Friday, the Terry Rogers Dancers will perform during halftime of the late game. On Saturday, during halftime of the third-place game, eight-year-old Brandi Williams will perform and will sing the National Anthem prior to the championship game.
Tickets for the 15th annual Rumble on the Ridge are $15 for all three days or $7 each day.
Past Rumble on the Ridge winners are: Minor, Ala. (1997); Grissom, Ala. (1998); Raleigh-Egypt, Tenn. (1999); Lee, Ala. (2000); Marietta, Ga. (2001); Little Rock Parkview, Ark. (2002); Pulaski Academy from Little Rock (2003); Poplar Bluff, Mo. (2004) and Memphis Mitchell, Tenn. (2005); Helen Cox, La. (2006); Duncanville, Texas (2007); Austin East, Tenn. (2008); Conway, Ark. (2009) and Bossier City, La. a year ago.
The Forrest City Mustangs have played in one final since the tournament began, when they faced Lee, Ala., in the 2000 Rumble.