Region 8 Basketball Tradition

December 27, 2005--Posted at 4:30 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR--  March Madness is the time of year when most people look forward to basketball, but for fans here in Region 8 every December means one thing, the Annual Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament. For many Region 8 residents, the NEA is more than just a high school basketball tournament, it's a holiday tradition in Northeast Arkansas.

"Best basketball tournament in the state as far as I am concerned we have more teams than the state tournament," said tournament director Billy Carter.

It's the 53rd year for the tournament where teams across the area come to participate in this long standing tradition for schools and fans. It's an annual piece of heaven for basketball lovers around Region 8.

"It's probably about 30 plus years coming out here and people come out here to see some good basketball," said Jerome Boyd.

Jerome like a number of other fans make a habit of attending the tournament each year and over the years they have seen kids who now bring their children to the tournament.

"We come out here and visit, we see people here that we only see once a year," said Boyd.

In addition to catching up with some friends that you only see once a year it's also a great place to catch some fantastic basketball and with tickets priced at only 4 dollars a piece, that is a lot of bang for your buck.

"It's not that bad, anything you do, I mean you come in here and watch 4 or 5 ballgames for four dollars you can't do anything else for that," said Boyd.

The event runs through Saturday and offers a great experience for the teams who participate.

"There are a lot of state champions that have come out of this tournament in the last 20 years," said Carter.

It's also your opportunity to catch tomorrow's stars today.

"We have had a lot of good ball players come through here," said Carter.

Players like former NBA star Michael Cage, Arkansas football star Marcus Monk and current ASU player Brandon Ballard all have played in the tournament in the past. It's a event you shouldn't miss.