25th Holiday Classic begins Friday

Published 9:37 pm Monday, December 22, 2014

AHOSKIE – The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Basketball Classic will celebrate a quarter-century of basketball action on display during the Christmas holidays beginning later this week.  This year’s event tips off Friday at the Hertford County High School gym with a dozen teams participating.

“We’re excited to have this tournament,” said Charles Simmons, athletic director and head boys basketball coach at Hertford County High, who also serves as tournament director. “We have an outstanding field and this should be one of our most competitive tournaments ever.  We look forward to the tournament every year.  It’s also popular with, and a great show for, all the fans of the schools.”

This year’s event features twelve teams.  The six girls teams will be led by returning and defending 2013 champion, Bertie High School.  Coach Alice Lyons will be seeking her ninth and the school’s tenth title. Joining the Lady Falcons this year will be Hertford County, Pasquotank, Gates, Plymouth, and Northeastern.

The six boys teams include defending champion, Hertford County and 2012 champ, Plymouth High School.  The Vikings actually downed the Bears 62-44 in the title clash, but surrendered the title to the then-runners up after this was one of several games Plymouth had to forfeit for having an ineligible player on their roster.  Northeastern will be participating for the first time, joined by Pasquotank, Bertie and Gates County.

As one of the oldest high school holiday tournaments in eastern North Carolina, the News-Herald Classic was the brainchild of the now late Richard Murray, who served as the Athletic Director at HCHS.

“Our name is on this tournament as the corporate sponsor, but this event is what is today because of the foresight of Coach Murray,” said Cal Bryant, Editor of the News-Herald. “This tournament was well-received by our local fans and that is noted by the large attendance each and every year. Coach Simmons has done a fantastic job at maintaining a high level of competition throughout the years. It’s great for the players and the fans.”

The tournament opens Friday with four first round games.

First on the floor in the 4 p.m. game will be Gates County’s girls, featuring All-State candidate, junior center Kaila Ballard, against a Northeastern team coached by wily veteran, Pat Thornton.   Following that game around 5:30 p.m. will be the Red Baron boys under first-year coach Wayne Hathaway against always-tough Northeastern, coached by Ron Nixon.  The final two games of the night have Plymouth girls against Pasquotank with the boys’ tip – same two teams – coming sometime around 8:30.

The next night (Saturday) will see the semi-finals of the event taking place with the two schools – Hertford County and Bertie – that had first-round byes seeing their first action.

These games, also with a 4 p.m. start, begin with Bertie’s girls facing the Gates-Northeastern winner, followed by the Falcon boys pitted against the ‘Barons-Eagles winner from Friday’s game.  Hertford County’s girls game in the feature of the nightcap beginning at 7 p.m. as the Lady Bears face the Plymouth-Pasquotank winner from Friday’s opener on Hertford County’s home floor.  The Bears boys – out to defend their crown – will play the Vikings-Panthers boys winner from the previous night and closing out the action on Day-2.

After a day-off on Sunday action will resume on Monday with the consolation round, featuring first the fifth-place girls’ game of Friday’s first loser, either Gates County or Northeastern against their counterpart first game non-winner from Saturday starting with a 4 p.m. tip-off.  The boys’ game for teams who failed to win on the first day of action (again, Plymouth or Pasquotank) will have their meeting following the girls’ game to decide fifth-place there. The nightcap features the third-place games, girls followed by boys’ tilts, with the losers of the two semi-final girl’s games from Saturday facing off at 7 p.m.  That will be followed by the boys’ third-place game at around 8:30.

Tuesday, Dec. 30 is Championship Night with the girls winner-take-all game slated for a 6 p.m. tip-off followed by the boy’s championship at approximately 7:30.

Admission is $8 for each day – all four games – Friday thru Monday and for the championship game on Tuesday.  No passes will be honored.

Following the distribution of the championship trophies the All-Tournament teams – girls and boys – will be selected, as well as the Most-Valuable-Players.