Dyer Straight: In case you missed it…11th Annual Classic in the Country tips this weekend

Dyer Straight

By Mike Dyer

The numbers and competition are beyond impressive; Hiland, Jenkins run top-notch national event

The 11th annual Classic is primed for yet another memorable weekend this month from Jan. 18-20 at Berlin Hiland High School with some of the top Ohio girls’ basketball teams invited to this premier showcase.

Tom Jenkins, director of the Classic and director of the Ohio Girls’ Basketball Report, is able to rattle off statistics connected to the event like clockwork. He said the event has exceeded his expectations and he is proud of its impact.

“Over the last 10 years we have had over 225,000 people attend,” Jenkins said in a recent interview with Holmes County Ticket. “We have had exactly 1,386 coaches attend this event. The economic impact of the Classic in this area has been in excess of 12 million dollars.”

Moreover, the event is able extend the Perry Reese Scholarship Fund and promote the vision of racial harmony set forth by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Consider some other unique stats:

  • There have been 40 state champions who have participated in the event over the years.
  • 160 Final Four teams. 71 have competed during their Final Four year
  • 10 Ohio Ms. Basketball players. Nine of which competed in the same year they were named
  • Averaged over 80 Division I prospects playing each year.
  • The average point differential for the 200 games is 12.1 points. Just a difference of one possession per quarter

Dyer-ColumnGive credit to Jenkins, who said the event is driven by girls’ basketball but also through food and music in rural Holmes County.

“We not only get to sample the great competition but also the culture of the Amish community,” Mason coach Rob Matula said. “The message sent to all that attend is of competition but the true message sent is one of fellowship and community.”

Mason (10-0) is one of a handful of Southwest Ohio teams which will participate in the event. The Comets open with Canton McKinley at 3:15 p.m. Jan. 18. Princeton (7-1), which is led by All-American guard Kelsey Mitchell, an Ohio State signee, plays Regis Jesuit (Colo.) at 1:30 p.m. that same day.

Princeton coach Jill Phillips said the Classic is the closest thing a team can get before the postseason tournament.

“It is great competition in front of a gym packed with basketball fans and college coaches,” Phillips said.

Other first-day games include Centerville (8-2) vs. West Holmes (5 p.m.), No. 25-USA Today ranked Kettering Fairmont (10-1) vs. Toledo Notre Dame (6:45 p.m.) and Alter vs. Berlin Hiland (8:30 p.m.).

On Sunday, Jan. 19, Lakota East (4-4) plays Upper Arlington at noon, followed by Mount Notre Dame (6-2) vs. Clyde at 1:45 p.m., Lakota West (8-2) vs. North Canton Hoover at 3:30 p.m. and Mason vs. Toledo Notre Dame at 5:15 p.m.

There are also seven games on Monday with Lakota West against Toledo Rogers at 5 p.m. among the highlights.

“To be invited indicates that our program has become one that is respected for our past successes and hopefully our future success as well,” Matula said. “I am hopeful we continue to get invited so our kids get exposure to the competition but also to the people who treat us so well.”

The facts and figures are quite astonishing for the Classic in the Country girls’ basketball event.


Mike Dyer is the Cincinnati Enquirer high school sports editor. Follow him on Cincinnati.com and @MikeDyer

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