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Tournament is special

Next week will be one of the weeks I enjoy most about my job.

The fourth annual Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament is slated to begin Monday evening at Ridgecroft School and Lawrence Academy. It is one of the events I enjoy most each year.

The tournament grew out of a desire we at the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald had to do something for our local independent and Christian schools.

For more than 20 years, we have been sponsoring the News-Herald Classic at Hertford County High School. That tournament benefits HCHS, Bertie High School, Northampton County High School – East and Gates County High School.

We are proud of that tournament, its heritage and the success it has had since its inception.

The goal of the tournament is to do something for the student-athletes at Ridgecroft School, Bethel Christian Academy, Lawrence Academy and Northeast Academy.

Joe Murray of United Country Joe Murray Realty was quick to sign on as a co-sponsor, something we needed to make the tournament a reality. He has worked tirelessly along side of the folks at Ridgecroft, Lawrence and those of us here at the News-Herald.

From the beginning, we wanted to make sure the tournament was about the right things and served a purpose greater than basketball. To that end, our former Publisher, Jeff Findley, suggested naming the event after Lt. Nick Brantley.

We approached Joyce and Keith Brantley with the idea and they were receptive as long as we promised the event would always be first-class and would promote playing hard and sportsmanship. We couldn’t have agreed more.

I can’t remember at this point which one of us came up with the idea of adding scholarships for the participants as one of the facets of the tournament, but it was a great one. Thus far, we have honored more than 12 student-athletes with the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Award.

Each year we have a fine group of student-athletes who are nominated by their school to receive the award. It requires that each of them have a 90 or higher average in their four years of high school and that they be representative of all the characteristics that were true of Nick: dedication, playing hard, sportsmanship and love of the game.

I have enjoyed serving on the committee that awards the scholarships each year. While the decisions are always tough, I can honestly say I have never been disappointed with our choices. They have always been fine young men or young women who represented themselves, their families and their schools well.

During the tough economic times, we have lowered the price for admission to the tournament to $5 per night for the past two years. That’s a good price for a lot of quality basketball.

The money that comes in from the tournament is divided among the schools that participate. The core schools, which are local, divide the proceeds after expenses and a stipend for the visiting schools are taken out. That is the same formula that is used with the News-Herald Classic at HCHS.

I encourage everyone to come out next week. We’ll be at Lawrence and Ridgecroft on Monday night for opening round games. Lawrence will host Tuesday’s JV consolation games and then the tourney will move back to Ridgecroft for the remainder of the week.

There will be a lot of good basketball played next week and a lot of fun had throughout the tournament. Don’t miss it.

Thadd White is Staff Writer and Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. He can be reached via email at thadd.white@r-cnews.com.