The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Non-Select Girls’ Marsh Madness Tournament will be back in a familiar location starting next season.
Southeastern Louisiana University’s University Center will be the site of the event for the next two years after last hosting in 2017.
“It’s an absolute special place for me,” LHSAA Assistant Executive Director and former Albany girls basketball coach Karen Hoyt said Thursday morning. “I won my last state championship there. When I stepped down from coaching, I joined the steering committee in Hammond. They do a tremendous job. It’s home for me. It’s better attended there than I think it’s ever been attended in any other venue. It’s a very good location, and the people of Hammond just to an excellent job, and we are so excited to be back in Hammond.”
The event will be held March 2-6, 2021.
“It was a great team effort to get it back here where it belongs,” Southeastern athletic director Jay Artigues said. “Hammond is a perfect spot for that, and I think the LHSAA took notice of that. We went after it aggressively. We always want things here.”
Hammond hosted the tournament when it was known as the Sweet 16 beginning in the early 2000’s until 2011. From there, the event moved to Ruston, Monroe, Lake Charles and Alexandria. Lake Charles hosted this past season.
“Location, I think, would be number one,” Hoyt said of factors in bringing the tournament back to Hammond. “I guess the small-town, community feel, just the connections that were made – the relationships. Lake Charles does a great job. I think for boys, it’s great there.
“There’s just a rich tradition in the (Hammond) area, and I just think for girls basketball, I think it’s the best location that we could have.”
Artigues said that’s just part of the equation.
“I think it’s the people,” he said. “It’s definitely the people. Like I said, when you have the parish, the city, the tourism, the Chamber and the university all working so well together, it’s hard to beat,” he said. “We just work so well together. We’ve got a great group of leaders in this area, and I’m just so excited to be a part of it.”
Southeastern will also host the state soccer tournament at Strawberry Stadium after hosting this past season.
“I reached out to them when we didn’t have a venue, and they graciously took it,” Hoyt said. “It was a win-win for us and them, I think. I think they were super excited for them to get it, and we were super excited for them to have it.”
“Getting these state playoffs here is great recognition, not just for the university, but for the city and the whole parish,” Artigues said.
Hoyt said the boys basketball tournament will remain in Lake Charles, while the baseball and softball state tournament will stay put in Sulphur.
“They do a phenomenal job,” Hoyt said of Sulphur. “These are all two-year contracts. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to host this spring with the coronavirus. We felt like we needed to go back to them, but even if coronavirus hadn’t happened, I can’t see baseball and softball going anywhere else.”