Ironton Classic bringing top talent, teams to area

Published 11:23 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

Forget March Madness. How about some December Delight?

The biggest blockbuster of basketball talent assembled in the Tri-State will be at the Ironton Sports Center on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 22-23, in the first annual Ironton Basketball Classic.

And classic it is.

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Some outstanding teams and talent from four different states will be assembled for the event that will be used to raise funds to help renovate the Sports Center and tickets are just $8 each day.

Also, a shuttle van will run every 30 minutes from the Conley Sports Center to Buffalo Wild Wings. A ticket for each night will allow fans to leave and return if they choose shuttle van.

Teams participating include Largo, Maryland, Mountain State Academy in West Virginia, Huntington High, W.Va., Russell, Ky., and Ohio powers Columbus Brookhaven, Walnut Ridge, and Campbell Memorial.

Area Ohio teams participating are Ironton St. Joseph, Chesapeake, Racine Southern, and host Ironton.

Largo and Ironton are scheduled to play each day.

Here is a look at the first game at 3 p.m. Monday, Dec. 22:

Largo Lions

Head coach: Lewis Howard. Assistants: Rodney Ward, Anthony Dyson, Ruppert Mason.

Last season; 23-4, Maryland Class 3-A state champions (also state champions in 1993)

Colors; Navy, silver, white

Enrollment: 1,518

The Lions boast another strong team with four top prospects.

Malik Thomas, a 6-foot-5 senior, is being recruited by Hampton, High Point and the Naval Academy. Aaron Martin, a 6-4 senior, is on the list for the University of Maryland at Baltimore County.

Rashaud Richardson, a 6-foot senior guard, appears headed to West Virginia Tech, and 6-2 junior Shane Smith is being tabbed for Navy.

Walnut Ridge Scots

Head coach: Jason Bates. Assistants: Ramon Spears, Jesse Jackson, Ashia Shaheer.

Last season: 9-12, 7-7 City League South.

Colors: Scarlet and gray

Enrollment: 1,119

The Scots will build around third-year starter Jeremy Qualls, a 5-10 junior who averaged 12.3 points per game last season. The Scots have some solid size in 6-4 front line players Jed Reid, Austin Traylor and Julius Hurst.

First-year head coach Jason Bates is the son of Hall of Fame coach Leroy Bates who coached at Toledo Libbey. Jason is the brother of Columbus Africentric head coach Michael Bates. The brothers are in the same league and will coach against each other twice.