Pitino, Huggins to attend Ironton Classic
By JIM WALKER
Tribune Sports Editor
Big talent draws big crowds, and not just fans.
The third annual Ironton Classic always has its share of talent that helps fill the Sports Center. Filling a few of those seats will be some college head coaches and assistants.
Two head coaches who have confirmed attendance for Tuesday are Louisville’s Rick Pitino and West Virginia’s Bob Huggins.
Other schools will be represented as well including Dayton, Pittsburgh, Toledo and Central Florida.
“Any time there is this much talent in one spot, it makes an easy recruiting stop,” said Mark LaFon, Ironton athletic director and head basketball coach.
“Pitino and Huggins both confirmed they are coming and there may be some others as well. I get calls and text messages all the time.”
It seems only fitting that the sponsor for The Ironton Classic be the Tri-State Building and Construction Trade Council.
The high school basketball showcase is getting a lot of enquiries from other schools and not just to play in the event that has a rapidly rising appeal. Other schools are interested in how the classic works.
“We wanted to build a product that raises money for the athletic department,” said LaFon. “It’s been a great success and now we have other schools calling us and wanting to know how we set this up.”
The Classic features 10 games over a two-day span. Tickets are $8 per day and allow fans to view all four games but they may leave and return if so desired. Tickets are on sale at the gate.
Last year the event featured the high-profile prep school of Oak Hill Academy. This year has several of the elite prep programs including a 9 p.m. matchup Wednesday between Our Savior New American of New York and Arlington Country Day of Florida.
“We’ve had some big name players here before, but there may be even bigger names and more of them this year on a lot of different teams,” said LaFon.
Arlington will have an open workout at 2 p.m. on Monday. Teams with extensive travel will be working out in the Sports Center beginning at noon on Monday but are not open to the public.
The tournament gets a local flavor at 1 p.m. Tuesday as the St. Joseph Flyers face the Portsmouth Clay Panthers, favored to win the Southern Ohio Conference Division I.
Brooke Point, Va., coached by former St. Joseph basketball coach Joe Kania, faces Youngstown Campbell Memorial in the 3 p.m. game,’
Cincinnati Princeton — one of Ohio’s elite teams — takes on Arlington Country Day at 5 p.m. followed by the host Fighting Tigers and Cincinnati Taft featuring Adolphus Washington, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound junior power forward who is being heavily recuited as a defensive end in football by teams such as Ohio State and Notre Dame.
The Senators were 22-4 last season.
In the 9 p.m. game, Our Savior New American faces Huntington (W.Va.) Prep and its twin towers of 7-foot-4 Sim Bhullar and 6-10 Stefan Jankovic, both from Toronto, Canada.
Huntington also has 6-9 forwards Sonny Odogwu and Ibrahima Djimde from Africa.
Tipping off the action on Wednesday will be the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers who go against Huntington High and University of Cincinnati recruit Talequia Hamilton at 1 p.m.
The 3 p.m. game features Chesapeake — a state semifinalist last season who returns three starters — and a revamped Columbus Africentric, considered one of the top Division IV teams in the state.
Huntington Prep meets Brooke Point at 5 p.m. with Ironton going against Campbell Memorial at 7 p.m. before the marquee game between Our Savior and Arlington.