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Tourney time at Brookhaven Academy

Hundreds of out-of-town visitors will patronize Brookhavenduring the Mississippi Private School Association’s State 2ABasketball Tournament at Brookhaven Academy this week, pumpingmoney into the local economy for five straight days while the statechampion is determined on the court.

Parents, players and fans of 16 boys and girls teams from 12communities in Mississippi and Louisiana are already arriving inBrookhaven for the tournament, which tips off Tuesday at 4 p.m.with Oak Forest Academy and Manchester Academy battling in thegirls’ bracket.

Local officials will of course cheer for Brookhaven Academy’steams, but their real rooting interest lies with the parents andfans. The visitors will have to eat, have to sleep and likely wantto shop while they’re in town, and local business owners standready to benefit.

“This event will bring a large number of people into ourcommunity for the week,” said Cliff Brumfield, executive vicepresident of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.”They will not only stay in our hotels, but will dine and shopwhile they’re here, giving local business owners a chance to meetnew customers and, hopefully, see a little bump in sales.”

Unlike other events that bring mostly one age group into town,the MPSA tournament will bring young players and fans and adultparents and grandparents, all with different tastes and shoppinghabits. Brumfield is hoping that all local businesses get a chanceto show their wares to the expected diverse group.

“I think you’ll see people covering the whole spectrum of whatwe have to offer, not only our specialty stores but in our clothingstores as well,” he said. “As we all do when we travel, people liketo get out and about, learn about a town and see what’savailable.”

Aside from business, Brumfield pointed out that the tournamentallows city officials an opportunity to showcase Brookhaven tovisitors in the hopes of bringing them back for future events. Andwith Brookhaven Academy hosting the tournament almost every otheryear, some of the consistently good teams will be bringing parentsand fans who are not strangers to Brookhaven.

Brookhaven Academy Interim Headmaster Herbert Davis said some ofthe tournament’s visitors will be local. He is expecting basketballplayers and students from other local schools to attend thegames.

“This time of year we get other people coming in and watching -maybe they’re through with their seasons and want to get out andsee some different teams,” he said. “We’ll see a lot of new facesthis week.”

Davis said the school is so often chosen to host the tournamentbecause of its accommodating facilities. The school’s gym is one ofonly three private school gyms in the state that have a full-size,90-foot court, he said, and the recent completion of the gym’s$180,000 renovation has provided seven dressing rooms andcompletely revamped concession and merchandise areas.

“It’s just big for us,” Davis said of hosting the tournament.”Brookhaven Academy has always been known for our basketball.”

Davis said numerous school officials and students workedthroughout the weekend to prepare the gym for tournament play,polishing the floors and hanging decorations. The tournament’stheme is “Monopoly,” and characters and symbols from the board gamehang all over the gym.

Men’s basketball coach Dale Watts said hosting the tournament isa big privilege for BA, allowing his team to compete on its homecourt and giving exposure to the school.

Expectations are high for Watts’ team, which has won the MPSAchampionship four years in a row. He said a “slight bump in theroad” – a disappointing finish in the South State 2A Tournamentlast week – is behind the players.

“We feel pretty good,” he said. “With the way the Mississippitournament is, it’s like a whole new season this week.”