Cameron Hart: Angelina College’s Cameron Hart (24) fights his way through the lane in a recent game. The Roadrunners host the annual Lufkin Coca Cola Thanksgiving Classic beginning on Thursday and running through Saturday. Seven teams will play 10 games at Shands Gymnasium. (Daisy de Boer/AC Athletics photo)

For years, the Lufkin Coca Cola Thanksgiving Classic has been a showcase for junior college basketball teams to display their talents to the holiday crowds.

This year, the Classic will have a little more motivation behind it.

Seven men’s teams will compete in 10 games over three days at Shands Gymnasium on the Angelina College campus, with the final matchup on Saturday featuring a true championship game. In the past, the Classic featured the round robin format; this time, there will be an actual winner.

The three-day tournament is something AC head men’s basketball coach Nick Wade said he’d dreamed of expanding to the benefit of area basketball fans.

“We’re trying to bring some of the best talent around the country here to Lufkin,” Wade said. “It’s going to be a great weekend for basketball fans who want to see some high-level games. We have a great Region V team here, a great Region XIV team coming, and it’s going to be jam-packed with action every day.

“We’ve always had the Thanksgiving tournament, but my vision was to make it the premier tournament at the holiday, and so far, it looks like we’re doing that. A lot of (upper level) coaches are going to be in attendance, and we hope the fans will be here with us as well.”

The tournament schedule is as follows:

Day 1 (Thursday, Nov. 28): Game 1: Howard College vs. Navarro College, 3 p.m.; Game 2: Southwestern Christian College vs. New Mexico Junior College, 5 p.m.; and Game 3: Louisiana Christian School vs. AC, 7 p.m.

Day 2 (Friday, Nov. 29): Game 4: Loser Game 2 vs. LCS, 12 p.m.; Game 5: Tomball College vs. Winner 2, 2 p.m.; Game 6: Loser 3 vs. Loser 4, 4 p.m.; Game 7: Winner 3 vs. Winner 4, 6 p.m.

Day 3 (Saturday, Nov. 30): Game 8: Winner 5 vs. Winner 6, 1 p.m.; Game 9: Loser 7 vs. Loser 8, 3 p.m.; Game 10: Winner 7 vs. Winner 8, 5 p.m.

The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is

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Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games. Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.