By KEVIN LYNCH

Welcome to Classic in the Country Challenge VII, going on this weekend, Jan 16-18 at Hiland High School in Berlin.

This year, there are 29 teams competing in the three-day basketball smorgasbord that begins Saturday morning at 10 a.m., and runs through Monday evening.

All four reigning State champions from Ohio will be here, as well as four other teams that were competing in the Final Four last season. A rematch of the Division I final between Mount Notre Dame and Toledo Start is a must see. There is also a pair of nationally-ranked teams, one from New Jersey and another from Florida, who are coming by to see how Ohio’s best measure up.

There are several outstanding individual athletes who will be strutting their stuff for the hundreds of college coaches who come to town for the event.

Four of the Top 10-rated seniors in the country will be participating, as well as five Top 10 juniors and six of the Top 10 sophomores, as rated by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, a well-respected national scouting service.

The previous six Classics have been incredible events, but with the abundance of talent on hand this year, the games are sure to be better than ever.

Tickets for Classic in the Country are $10 for a single day pass or $25 for a three-day pass.

There will be many visitors to Holmes County at a time of year when the tourist trade is generally pretty quiet. This event is quite a boon for the local economy, as well as a feast for basketball fans.