‘Classic postponed again

Published 11:59 am Wednesday, December 29, 2010

AHOSKIE – In 21 years, this Classic may have been the toughest – and no games have been played yet.

Due to Mother Nature’s outpouring of snow on the Roanoke-Chowan region, the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic sponsored by United Country Joe Murray Realty has been postponed three times.

The latest of these came Wednesday afternoon.

“We are having problems with getting everyone here safely,” said Hertford County High School Athletic Director Charles Simmons, whose school hosts the event. “We never want to do anything that would jeopardize a student-athlete, coach or fan, so we’re going to wait one additional day.”

That means the event will now be a two-day affair which will occur today (Thursday) and tomorrow.

“With the changes that have been necessary, we’ll play all the semifinals on one day beginning at 1 p.m. on Thursday,” said Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Sports Editor Thadd White, whose company co-sponsors the event. “That will make sure we’re out of the gym in time for people to take their time getting home and not feel they have to rush on roads that may still have some bad spots.”

Thursday’s contests will start with two girls games.

At 1p.m., defending Holiday Classic Champion Bertie High School will square off with defending Tar-Roanoke Conference champion Northampton County High School – East.

The key matchup will feature the Lady Falcons looking for another championship in the event while Rick Heckler’s Lady Rams will attempt to pull the upset on last year’s NCHSAA regional semifinalist.

At 2:30 p.m., the other girl’s semifinal will tip off. That will feature last year’s Northeastern Coastal Conference champion Hertford County High School against the Lady Red Barons of Gates County High School.

The boys will take center court starting at 4 p.m. when Bertie High School looks to knock off Northampton-East and give Head Coach Lester Lyons his third trip to the finals of the tournament in as many years.

Bertie has finished runner up in each of the last two tournaments, but need to knock off the Rams to have a chance to give Lyons his first Classic title.

Host HCHS will then be on the court at 5:30 p.m. when the Bears host Gates County High School in a battle between the two teams that last won the Classic championship.

Head Coach Charles Simmons will look to lead Hertford County back to the title game for a chance to defend their 2009 title while Quincy Saunders hopes to have the Red Barons pull off an upset reminiscent of their title run in 2008.

On New Year’s Eve, the tournament will start at 1 p.m. again as the tournament organizers look to have everyone on the road to their New Year’s Celebration early.

“We wanted to make sure the tournament went on as promised, but at the same-time allow everyone to celebrate the New Year in the manner of their own choosing,” said Joe Murray, owner and operator of tournament co-sponsor United Country Joe Murray Realty. “We’re hoping everyone will still come out and support the student-athletes as they provide a great basketball tournament.”

The afternoon starts with the Girl’s Consolation Game which is set for a 1 p.m. tipoff. That contest will feature the loser’s of Thursday’s action battling for the tournament’s third place hardware.

The next game on tap will be the Boy’s Consolation Game which will feature the teams who failed to win on Thursday. That contest will tip at 2:30 p.m.

Then the highlight of the tournament will take place as the first of the two championship games will take center stage.

The Girl’s Championship contest is slated to begin at 4 p.m. and will feature the winners from Thursday’s action. Following the game will be an awards ceremony that will feature awards for all of the teams, plus a Tournament Most Valuable Player and an All-Tournament Team.

In addition, the annual Cal Bryant Scholarship Award will be given to the MVP. This year’s award is sponsored by Dr. Beverly and Larry Edwards of Ahoskie Pediatrics.

After the awards ceremony, the Boy’s Championship Game will be played and that will feature the winner of Thursday night’s boys contest.

Following the game, the final awards ceremony will be held featuring trophies for each of the boy’s teams, plus and MVP and All-Tournament Team.

Also, the annual Charles Simmons Scholarship Award will be presented to the boy’s MVP. The award is sponsored by David Shields of Golden Skillet.

The final award of the evening will be the Richard Murray Sportsmanship Award which will be given to the team that exemplifies the best sportsmanship at the tournament whether it is a girl’s team or a boy’s team. That award is sponsored by Louis Mizelle of Mizelle’s Discount Drug.

The event has been sponsored by Roanoke-Chowan Publications since its inception and five years ago, United Country Joe Murray Realty joined as one of the title sponsors.

“We are appreciative of the News-Herald and Joe Murray Realty for their support of high school athletics,” Simmons said. “They make it possible to put on a first class tournament.”

Both sponsors said they were glad to be part of the event.

“We have been involved with the tournament since the very beginning,” White said. “We’re proud of what it has become and of being part of that.”

“I am a product of high school athletics myself, so I appreciate the work of the student-athletes in our region,” Murray said. “I am proud that our company is able to support our local prep athletes.”

Admission to the tournament will be $7 on Thursday and $8 on championship night.