Tournament is growing

Published 10:11 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We (and by that I mean Joe Murray and I) have been busy working on next week’s Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament.

Though the work has been even more this year, we both believe it will pay off come next week when the tournament begins.

In its third year, the tournament will be bigger than it has in the past two seasons and will feature additional teams and as well as junior varsity squads for the first time in the history of the tournament.

I’m excited about what lies ahead for the tournament and for what lies ahead for the student-athletes of the Roanoke-Chowan region because it exists. I’m elated that we’ll be offering scholarships for student-athletes for the third time in as many seasons.

I knew Nick Brantley and I want future generations of students at Ridgecroft School and the surrounding independent schools to learn about him – what he stood for and what he meant to the schools and communities he was a part of. This tournament is just one way to see that happen.

There have been nine young people already who have benefitted from the scholarships that have been provided at the tournament. They include Parker Brown, Lori Coggins, Hayes Bryant, Kendall Street, Miles Newbern, Mindy Miller, Lauren Lilley, Frank Feher and Drew Pinnix. Each of those student-athletes were deserving of the honor they received.

I’m proud of what has been accomplished thus far with this tournament and I believe there is much more in the future not only for the schools, but the student-athletes at those schools. I hope to continue to see it evolve and become even more popular than it already is.

There are a couple of new wrinkles in the tournament this year. The first is the addition of four games being played at Lawrence Academy on opening night. There the Warriors will host Bethel Christian Academy in the first round of the junior varsity girls, junior varsity boys, varsity girls and varsity boys tournaments.

While providing fans an opportunity for an excellent first round experience, it will also feature two teams in Bertie County that are good rivals. I hope the fans of both teams and basketball fans in the areas around Merry Hill will come out and enjoy this first-time experience.

Also, there is a junior varsity component to this year’s tournament. While the varsity schools have been matching up for the past two years, we’ve never invited the jayvee squads to play until this season. I believe it will be beneficial for the fans and for those teams. Tournaments are different animals and it’s good to learn that now.

The tournament will also be welcoming Pungo Christian Academy from Belhaven to the fold. Athletic Director Melanie Sawyer and the Raiders are a good fit for what we try to do – provide good basketball played by teams that always show class and sportsmanship. They are a welcome addition.

The same five schools that helped us found the tournament – Ridgecroft, Lawrence, Bethel, Northeast and Ahoskie Christian – will all be taking the floor as well. Local fans can come out and enjoy seeing the local squads match up with each other.

We’ve also lowered the price this year, dropping admission to $5 per head. We think that will make it more affordable for families and that’s important for our tournament.

Thadd White is a Staff Writer and Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at 332-7211 or via email at