Classic tourney lives up to name

Plain Dealer Sports Writer

News and notes left over from the Classic in the Country Challenge IV.

It might be a high school event, but it is run with a professional attitude. The fourth edition of the 33-team event honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King and benefiting the Perry Reese Memorial Scholarship Fund was a rousing slam dunk.

I have attended similar events across the country — Los Angeles, Chicago, North Carolina, New Jersey, Columbus — and nothing compares to the Classic. From the talent on display to the game-day operations to the hospitality of the people at Hiland High and Berlin, Ohio, the Classic in the Country Challenge is just what its name implies, a classic.


Stow, Green and Wadsworth all benefited from their experience. Stow got excellent play out of guards Liana Jennings, Cate Cianchetti and Emilee Ritchie and post player Alyssa Wagers in a 65-57 win over Little Miami.

Green junior Amanda Rose had nine points, six rebounds, four assists and six steals in a 49-44 victory over Fort Recovery, and top-ranked Wadsworth gutted out a win over host and two-time reigning Division IV state champ Hiland.

“We needed to play against a good team in a hostile environment,” said Wadsworth coach Andy Booth, a former teammate of Hiland coach Dave Schlabach at Malone College. “We got what we wanted.”


Holmes County Chamber of Commerce Director Shasta Mast estimated the event had a profound economic impact. “I haven’t seen all the numbers yet, but based on last year and the number of people who attended this year, I can say the Classic produced around $1.5 million worth of revenue,” she said.

Hunger pangs:

With about 19,000 fans attending the three-day event, concessioners did a booming business. They sold approximately 1,200 hot dogs, 620 slices of Swiss cheese, 108 rings of trail bologna, 250 pounds of popcorn, 440 jumbo chocolate-chip cookies, 18 roasters of chicken and noodles, 400 ice-cream cups, 88 pounds of hamburger and 240 pounds of chicken used to make sandwiches.


The team from Fort Recovery took advantage of the cultural opportunities offered by the event. The team ate dinner at an Amish home on Saturday after touring a farm, a buggy-maker and a broom-maker.

Baby Steps:

The husband-wife tandem of Michelle and Wayne Blizzard, from Somerset, Ohio, near Zanesville, officiated Green’s win over Fort Recovery. Michelle Blizzard, a real-estate agent, is 23 weeks pregnant.