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HS boys bball: Holt Arena to host inaugural Bengal Invitational

November 23, 2018

POCATELLO — Century High School boys basketball coach Ryan Frost remembers playing rivalry games on the campus of Idaho State University.

Back when Frost played basketball at Highland High School, competing at ISU’s Reed Gym and Holt Arena was an annual treat.

But in recent years, the two venues have been vacant of high school hoops. That’ll change next week, when Holt Arena hosts the inaugural Bengal Invitational.

Frost’s Century Diamondbacks will join the varsity and junior varsity boys basketball teams from Highland, Pocatello, Shelley, Bonneville, Boise and Borah high schools for two days of games Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, at ISU’s Holt Arena.

“I’m excited and so are the kids,” said Frost, Century’s second-year coach. “It’s cool because the football kids get that experience (of playing at Holt Arena), but basketball, we never really get that.”

The two-day invitational, which is sponsored by Idaho Central Credit Union, begins at 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday, with the final games tipping off at 8 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $8 per day for adults and $3 per day for students with a student ID card and for patrons ages 55 and over and 12 and under.

Families can also purchase a family pass for $20 per day. Family passes are valid for two adults and up to four children.

Cheer and dance teams from the participating schools are performing at halftime of the basketball games.

The event is partly an effort by ISU to bring prospective future students onto its campus, especially Boise and Borah high schools from the Treasure Valley.

“As a group of us were thinking about ways we could promote Idaho State University and invite high school students and their families, friends and fans on our campus, someone suggested the idea of a high school basketball tournament,” said Kent Tingey, ISU’s vice president of advancement. “We asked the high schools and they were enthusiastic about coming to our campus, taking tours of our programs and playing in a collegiate venue.”

The Boise High School varsity team is taking a tour of ISU’s campus, playing Highland at 6 p.m. Friday and holding a basketball clinic Friday at Pocatello’s Lewis & Clark Elementary during its stay in the Gate City.

Boise High School coach Manny Varela said his team regularly performs community service, and he wants to make it a point to continue that tradition during the team’s trip to Pocatello.

“I encourage our guys to do community service,” Varela said. “I didn’t want to spend a day just hanging out in the hotel room. We will always try and get out and do something.”

Borah’s varsity team is making an east Idaho road trip, capped off by its Saturday afternoon game against Highland. Borah plays Hillcrest High School on Thursday in Ammon, then plays Madison High on Friday in Rexburg before its matchup with the Rams.

“We really look forward to playing different teams and seeing what the east side looks like,” Borah coach Jeremy Dennis said.

Most basketball tournaments and invitational showcases take place in Boise, Salt Lake City or areas outside east Idaho. The 2018 Bengal Invitational gives east Idaho teams a chance to show off their skills in front of home fans in what Frost called a “state tournament atmosphere.”

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Frost said. “ISU gets more kids at their school and to see their facilities. Our high school kids, too, they get exposure.”

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