Little Rock prepares to host SEC women's tourney

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Some of the best women's basketball teams in the country will be in Arkansas during early March, and area organizers are excited.

The Southeastern Conference tournament will be at North Little Rock's Alltel Arena from March 2-5, returning to the venue where it was held in 2003. The SEC has four teams in this week's AP women's basketball poll, including No. 1 Tennessee and No. 3 LSU.

"I don't think there's any question that the SEC is the elite women's basketball conference," said Camie Boggess, chair of the local organizing committee. "It's a phenomenal product, and to have it all here -- and the competition that you see in this tournament is just as good as it gets."

Boggess spoke Tuesday at Alltel, urging local fans to buy tickets -- which are on sale. She also noted the tournament will take place the same weekend as the March 5 Little Rock Marathon. Boggess said she hopes the tournament and the marathon will create a festive sports atmosphere in the region.

"We have gotten marathon information out to the alumni associations at the different schools in the Southeastern Conference, and we're hopeful that some of the folks that will be coming in for the basketball tournament will also, in turn, run the marathon," she said. "The marathon has been getting information about the tournament out to some of their folks."

In 2003, the tournament drew 43,642 over four days at Alltel, a record that still stands.

"I think a lot of folks came out initially to support the tournament and the idea of the tournament being here," Boggess said. "And I think when they got here, they found great basketball and were very willing to come back."