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Classic is set

AHOSKIE – It has become the biggest sports tradition in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

The News-Herald Holiday Classic pits four local teams against each other as they vie for the right to be crowned as champion.

The 15th annual event will tip off Monday night at Hertford County High School beginning at 5 p.m.

Last year it was two different tournaments entirely. In the boy’s bracket, upstart Bertie High School and interim coach Tony Hoggard upset the highly-favored Hertford County Bears in the finals to win just their third News-Herald Holiday Classic.

On the girls side of the bracket, the Bertie girls won their third consecutive Classic title with a 58-37 victory over the rival Bears.

This season’s tournament promises not to disappoint as two highly-touted local teams will be headlining the event.

Bertie’s Lady Falcons will be the front-runner to repeat for the fourth time in as many seasons as they head into the tournament.

Senior standout Jessica Breland, last year’s tournament Most Valuable Player, will be perhaps the top player in the entire tourney. She has committed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she will receive a full scholarship.

During last year’s tournament, Breland chipped in 20 points in the championship game win over HCHS while having 22 in an opening round victory over Gates County.

Two other key names for the Lady Falcons will be last year’s All-Roanoke-Chowan selection Tierra Perry and second-team performer Ashley Berryman. Both have been key in the Lady Falcons’ early season start.

On the boy’s side, HCHS has another season of talent to the brim as veteran Charles Simmons brings in a squad that has had multiple leading scorers in their seven victories to begin the season.

Leading the way for the Bears will be LaMarcus Jenkins, a big inside presence who can dominate in the paint. Also key on the inside will by junior Tydreke Powell, who has enjoyed early success.

Shooting the ball from the outside is the specialty of senior LaMarcus Bond, junior Chris Mizelle and sophomore Marcus Burnell.

The tournament will begin Monday with the two varsity girl’s games. Northampton-East will square off with Bertie at 5 p.m.

The Lady Rams finished last in the 2005 tournament with a one-point loss to Gates County. Jessica Price and Shanika Mason lead this year’s team.

At 6:30 p.m., the Lady Bears of Hertford County will square off with Gates County in what should be one of the better first-round games.

Chiquitta Holloman and Kenya Cofield have paced the Lady Bears while Jalisa Bradley and Destinee Hurdle lead Gates County.

The boy’s game Monday evening will feature the host HCHS Bears as they meet Gates County. The Red Barons have played well in the early going led by senior Raphael Eason and Graylon Boone.

The second night of the tournament will begin with the girl’s consolation game at 6 p.m. followed by the second boy’s game where Bertie will meet Northampton-East.

The Falcons have a sharpshooter in Kent Bazemore, who leads their team. Also key for Bertie will the return of Calvin Moore to the sidelines. The veteran coach has spent the last two years in Iraq serving his country, but is back fulltime with the Falcon basketball squad.

Championship night is Wednesday, December 28. Games begin with the boy’s consolation game at 5 p.m. followed by the girl’s championship tentatively slated for 6:30 p.m. and the boy’s title game at 8 p.m.

&uot;We are looking forward to this tournament again this season,&uot; said Simmons, who also serves as Tournament Director. &uot;We always have a good crowd and there is always terrific basketball. This year should be no exception.&uot;

General admission will be $6 each for nights one and two and $7 on championship night. No season passes will be honored.