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Brantley tourney begins Tuesday

AHOSKIE – The inaugural Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament is slated to begin tonight (Tuesday).

The five-team basketball tournament tips off at 4 p.m. at Ridgecroft School with a contest featuring Ahoskie Christian School and Lawrence Academy.

The tournament will honor Nick Brantley, who was a two-time Most Valuable Player at Ridgecroft and went on to graduate from Virginia Tech from where he launched a stellar career in the United States Navy.

Brantley was killed in a training exercise on September 24, 2005 when his Navy Seahawk helicopter went down off the North Carolina coast during a training exercie.

Three student-athletes who play with the same hard-nosed determination and sportsmanship with which Brantley played will earn $500 college scholarships during the tournament. Those scholarships were provided by Nucor Steel n Hertford County, Sonny Larabee of Northeastern Orthopedics and Joe Mizelle of Mizelle’s Accounting.

The tournament will feature the five non-public schools in the Roanoke-Chowan area. The participating schools will be Ahoskie Christian School, Bethel Christian Academy, Lawrence Academy, Northeast Academy and Ridgecroft School.

Tonight’s play-in games will begin the event when fourth-seeded Lawrence Academy plays fifth-seeded Ahoskie Christian in a girl’s contest. The boy’s play-in game featuring the same two teams will immediately follow.

The tournament will then take a day off before resuming action on Thursday afternoon at 4. Following the first game, the contests will continue 10 minutes following the conclusion of the proceeding game.

The first game Thursday will feature the Ridgecroft School girls facing Bethel Christian Academy in the two versus three matchup.

The next contest will see Northeast Academy’s boys meeting Bethel Christian in another two versus three contest.

The third game Thursday will see top-seeded Northeast Academy’s girls square off against the winner of the play-in contest from Tuesday.

The final game of the night will be Ridgecroft School’s boys against the winner of the play-in matchup.

Friday’s slate, which also begins at 4 p.m., will start with the girl’s consolation game followed by the boy’s consolation contest.

The third game of the evening will be the girl’s championship contest followed by the boy’s title game. An awards ceremony will follow.

The tournament is being sponsored by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and United Country Joe Murray Realty.

“From the very beginning, we’ve felt like this tournament could be something that everyone is proud of,” News-Herald Publisher Jeff Findley said.

“With the scholarships available to the participating student-athletes and the honor paid to Nick Brantley, we’re excited about being a part of it.”

For his part, United Country owner Joe Murray was also pleased with the prospect of the tournament.

“This tournament is honoring a fine young man and we felt it was important to be a part of it,” Murray said. “We want this tournament to be in the elite events of its kind.”

The tournament tips at 4 p.m. today.