Valdosta, GA - Valdosta State Basketball is in for a busy weekend as the Blazers welcome Florida Memorial, Columbus State and Shaw to town for the Loop Pizza Grill Classic while the Lady Blazers welcome West Alabama, Columbus State and Coastal Georgia for the Days INNvitational.
Both tournaments will be played Thursday and Friday with the women’s teams starting each day off. At 2 p.m., Thursday, Coastal Georgia will face West Alabama, and the Tigers of UWA will play Columbus State at 2 p.m. to start the action Friday.
Both 4 p.m. games will be men’s games. Thursday, Columbus State will face Florida Memorial, and Friday, the Cougars of CSU will take on Shaw.
Fans can support the Valdosta State teams starting at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The Lady Blazers will face Columbus State Thursday and Coastal Georgia Friday while the Blazers follow at 8 p.m. against Shaw on Thursday and Florida Memorial on Friday. The full schedule is as follows.
2 p.m. – Coastal Georgia vs. West Alabama women
4 p.m. – Columbus State vs. Florida Memorial men
6 p.m. – Columbus State at Valdosta State Lady Blazers
8 p.m. – Shaw at Valdosta State Blazers
2 p.m. – West Alabama vs. Columbus State women
4 p.m. – Columbus State vs. Shaw men
6 p.m. – Coastal Georgia at Valdosta State Lady Blazers
8 p.m. – Florida Memorial at Valdosta State Blazers
Coastal Georgia is an NAIA school that has managed a 9-6 season to date. The Mariners have split their last two games after winning two in a row and are averaging 64.3 points per game. Head Coach Betsy Harris has some interesting ties to this tournament. She had two different coaching stints at West Alabama, one of which started when VSU Head Coach Kiley Hill hired her as an assistant when he accepted the head position at West Alabama before the 1999-2000 season.
The Columbus State women are a perennial power in the Peach Belt Conference and were picked to finish fourth this season in a preseason poll of the conference’s coaches. So far this season, the Cougars are 5-2 with losses against West Florida and Nova Southeastern.
While Valdosta State will see West Alabama in conference play, the teams won’t face each other this week. The Tigers are only 2-6 on the year with wins against Southern Arkansas and Spring Hill. West Alabama will start the Gulf South Conference schedule against Alabama-Huntsville on January 5, as will Valdosta State against Delta State. First, both teams will have to survive the Days INNvitational.
The Loop Pizza Grill Classic welcomes a strong field of teams. Columbus State is 4-3 on the season. Two of the team’s losses came at the hands of another GSC team, West Georgia. The Cougars have two wins over West Alabama though. Columbus State also beat Nova Southeastern, Puerto Rico-Mayaguez and Brewton Parker. The Cougars were picked by the Peach Belt Coaches to finish ninth in the conference in this season’s preseason poll.
Shaw is an NCAA Division II member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and stands at 4-2 on the season. The team’s most memorable game so far might be it’s opening exhibition against Duke in which the Bears only lost by 14 to the perennial powerhouse. In the regular season so far, Shaw has fallen to West Florida and Christian Brothers but beat Sunshine State schools Tampa and Eckerd.
The third men’s team to come to Valdosta this weekend will be Florida Memorial. The Lions join the Coastal Georgia women as the only NAIA teams in this weekend’s tournaments. Florida Memorial, from Miami Gardens, Fla., is 4-5 on the season with notable victories over Barry and Tampa. The team did lose to Lynn though. The Lions average 66 points per game so far this season.
Be sure to come out for some holiday basketball fun at 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m Thursday and Friday at the Days INNvitational and Loop Pizza Grill Classic.