By DAVE MAST The third leg of the Classic in the Country high school girls basketball showcase is the incredible gift of hospitality exhibited by the countless volunteers who make the event a reality. Well-known throughout the state of Ohio as the finest event to which teams can be invited, that reputation doesn’t exist without […]
By DAVE MAST When Tom Jenkins created Classic in the Country, the girls basketball showcase that takes place over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend every year in Amish Country, he did so with the hope that in addition to presenting some top-notch girls basketball, he could also promote the celebration of sameness in people everywhere, […]
Classic in the Country brings Mast back home By KEVIN LYNCH Staff Writer BERLIN — For one weekend a year, Esther Mast puts her life on hold to provide entertainment for the crowds at the end of quarters, at halftime and between games of the Classic in the Country Challenge. Mast was a player on […]
By RANDY WORRELL Sports Writer BERLIN — Coaches often say that participating in this weekend’s Classic in the Country sets the stage for tournament success in March. For the Hiland, West Holmes, and Chippewa girls basketball programs, it’s a proven commodity. Each of the three local schools taking part in the 13th edition of the […]
By KEVIN LYNCH Staff Writer BERLIN — The Kaufman Realty and Auctions Classic in the Country Challenge Powered by Under Armour celebrates its 13th year of bringing the best girls basketball in the state of Ohio and beyond into one venue, as Hiland hosts the event that features 20 games over three days, starting this […]
By DAVE MAST For those who have been a part of Classic in the Country, the nationally renowned girls high school basketball showcase that takes place over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend every year for the past dozen years, these little gems are probably well-known. For those who have not been to this amazing weekend […]
By KEVIN LYNCH Staff Writer When talking about the elite programs of high school girls basketball, Holmes County quickly comes to mind, with four state championships won by the girls at each end of the county. So, where else would you expect to find one of the most unique, high quality displays of girls basketball […]
It doesn’t take a genius to spot a gem. However, sifting through the coal for that yet-to-be-discovered diamond is always a thrill, especially when you come up with the one undiscovered gem everyone else overlooked. It takes a keen, experienced eye to do so, but the rewards can be great. The talent hitting the floor […]
Chocolate and peanut butter. Peas and carrots. Salt and pepper. Basketball and Amish Country? While the first three are things which obviously go together hand-in-hand, one might not consider Amish Country and high school girls basketball a perfect match. Yet, after 11 wonderful seasons, Classic in the Country, one of the premier high school girls basketball showcases […]
By LEAH BROWN There are tournaments all around the state of Ohio. Let’s face it, we’re a basketball state. But one of the things that makes the Classic so special is the reason why it’s held every year: to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and Perry Reese Jr. who both worked hard and endured much […]
BERLIN — The 11th annual Kaufman Realty & Auctions Classic in the Country Challenge powered by Under Armour will be held over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, beginning Saturday at 10 a.m., and continuing nonstop through Monday with the final game set for 8:30 p.m. There will be 20 games played over the weekend, with […]
By MIKE DYER 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 […]
By DAVE MAST Holmes County, Ohio has always been well known for its rolling, scenic landscape, stunningly beautiful sunsets, cows grazing in the pasture, horse and buggies and the simple style of the Amish culture. But basketball? You better believe it. For the past decade, the round orange ball has taken center stage as part […]
By ANDREW VOGEL Daily Record Sports Writer The success of the girls basketball programs at Hiland, Orrville and West Holmes make deep postseason runs an expectation every year. While mid-January typically marks the season’s halfway point, this weekend’s Classic in the Country Challenge will give the three local squads the March-like atmosphere they have come […]
BERLIN—The motto of Classic in the Country Challenge IX is “Where Champions Compete & Hospitality is King.” You also can add “An economic boon to Holmes County and the surrounding area.” The ninth annual get-together, featuring some of the finest high school girls basketball programs from across the state, begins its three-day run at the […]
As Classic in the Country IX pulls into the Perry Reese Memorial Center for another weekend of incredible high school girls basketball Jan.14-16, many locals who haven’t been here may be wondering what is in it for them. Whether you are a high school hoops fan or not, whether you want to watch one or […]
When Tom Jenkins and Dave Schlabach transformed Berlin into a winter wonderland of girls basketball over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, they knew that if they did it the right way, they could have a major impact both on the landscape of girls basketball and on the economy of Berlin during a time when tourism is usually struggling.
Over the past eight winters, Classic in the Country has achieved national recognition as one of the best high school basketball events in the nation, and it has injected millions of dollars into the local economy.
However, the two men realize that in those eight years, they have gone about as far as they can with the generous support of the local community. “The people and businesses of Holmes County have been amazing through their support and volunteering to help us make Classic in the Country a success,” said Schlabach. “We will be forever grateful to everyone who has helped us make our dream a reality.”
Minster 51, Minerva 47
BERLIN — Delanie Wolf scored 18 points and Kayla Wuebker added 12 as Minster defeated Minerva to kick off the Classic in the Country at the Perry Reese Center. Minster, who sank 19 of 35 shots for 54 percent, led 30-20 at the half and took a 42-34 lead into the final frame. Two other Minster players, Tara Clune and Kayla Albers, each added eight. Chelsie Butler paced Minerva with 18 points and Taylor Maurer added 13.
Canton McKinley 52, Brookhaven 24
BERLIN — Marquia Tuner scored 11 points and Ameryst Alston and Gabby Kendall each added 10 as Canton McKinley rolled past Columbus Brookhaven. Essence Bates-Hatch, Jasmine Johnson and Travecia Franklin had six points each for Brookhaven.
It seemed appropriate to honor Reggie Lee during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Lee, the girls head basketball coach of the Brookhaven Bearcats for the past 30 years, steps down this year as one of the most successful coaches in the state of Ohio. Lee was honored in front of a packed house at the Perry Reese Community Center on Saturday, Jan. 15, and the honor was as much for what Lee has done off the court as what he has done on it, where he has fashioned a state power.
“I am truly humbled by this,” said Lee, having no idea it was coming. “For 30 years, this has always been about these girls. I feel like I am one of the most blessed men on the earth to coach girls basketball.”
In his tribute to Coach Lee, Tom Jenkins, executive director of Ohio Girls Basketball Report and one of the coordinators for Classic in the Country Challenge, one of the nation’s premier high school girls basketball events, praised Lee for his unyielding commitment to his players over the years. The Classic, which also makes a dedicated effort to honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Perry Reese and other African Americans whom have made great social impacts on the world. Jenkins spoke about the impact Lee has had in dissolving racial barriers through his time spent on and off the court. Jenkins said that Lee was instrumental in bringing many of Ohio’s top black basketball programs into the Classic.
BERLIN — All the games on the final day of Classic in the Country VIII turned out to be one-sided affairs determined by double digits, even the lone overtime game of the 20 played at this year’s event.
BERLIN — The second day of action at the Classic in the Country started off with a barn burner that came right down the end. Mount Notre Dame bounced back from a tough three-point loss on Saturday to eke out a 50-46 triumph over Toledo Central Catholic.
Kathryn Reynolds capped off a fantastic weekend of action with 23 points to lead the Cougars to victory. The future Iowa Hawkeye was 6-for-8 from 3-point range. She had an assist and five steals. Gabby West chipped in 13 for the winners. In her two games at Classic in the Country, Reynolds scored 50 points on 11-of-18 shooting from beyond the arc.
BERLIN — The following are some random thoughts and observations from the Classic in the Country Challenge VIII.
After all these years of watching games and seeing hundreds of college coaches at the Classic in the Country, I just discovered on Saturday that the coaches have no contact with the players while visiting Berlin. They are here to observe, mostly and chart development and potential of players performing on a fairly large stage.
* Out-of state teams traditionally have not faired well at the Classic in the Country. Including the first day at this year’s event. The out-of-staters are 8-12 since the Classic began in 2004.
BERLIN — There were a trio of down-to-the-wire games, one 10-point affair and one blowout in the five games not featuring area ties on Day 1 of the Classic in the Country. Myrtle Beach, coached by Triway alumni Brian Kiper and the hosting Hiland Hawks, were also in action.
Game 10 JAN 16 SUN 3:30 pm Wadsworth Grizzlies vs. Lakota West Firebirds
One point for a free throw; two points for a lay-up; three points for a long-range bomb. Indeed, basketball is a game of numbers. But the biggest numbers in this contest will be ﬁve and 10.
Five is for Wadsworth’s starting combo, a talented and athletic group that plays with great intelligence, while 10 stands for Lakota West’s depth, where Andy Fishman runs players in and out, wearing down opponents.
Game 11 JAN 16 SUN 5:15 pm Hathaway Brown Blazers vs. Lakota East Thunderhawks
While it is usually the players on the ﬂoor who make the highlight reels, Lakota East’s coaching staff certainly could apply when you’re looking for star quality. Head coach Nikki Kremer-Drew left Xavier University after her senior year as an All-American who became the school’s all-time leading scorer. She also played professionally in France before settling into the coaching ranks. She is joined by assistant coach Brooke Wyckoff, an All-American at Florida State University, and a former WNBA all-star.
However, Kremer-Drew’s talented team will have its work cut out, trying to tame Paul Barlow’s Blazers. All Barlow’s teams have accomplished over the past four years is four straight Final Four appearances, including back-to-back championships.
Game 17 JAN 17 MON 3:15 pm Cincinnati Sycamore Aviators vs. Wadsworth Grizzlies
Chalk this one up as the grizzled veterans who seem to take everything in stride against an upstart team that grew through addition.
The Cincinnati Sycamore Aviators finished last year 13-11, but it was a very good learning year for head coach Paula Hayden’s crew, plus they played in the meat grinder Greater Miami Conference, which boasts about as many State-hopefuls as any in the state. Sycamore returns a load of talent, and in addition was the recipient of some of the fallout at Mount Notre Dame.
Guard Courtney Tucker and point guard Kelly McDonald transferred in after playing for the Cougars, and will join 6 foot-1-inch junior post player Keri Kleist, who transferred in from Mason. That trio will cohort with returning senior wing player Ashley Schaefer, junior wing Alexis Newbolt, and 5-foot-10-inch sophomore Hannah Locke. They will all play supporting roles to Chloe Pavlech, a junior wing bound for the University of Maryland.
BERLIN — Former Triway player and assistant coach Brian Kiper is coming home for a brief visit. He will be bringing with him a team of top-notch females hoopsters, the reigning 3A champions in the state of South Carolina.
The girls from Myrtle Beach High School will be playing two games in the eighth Classic in the Country Challenge this weekend at the Perry Reese Jr. Community Center.
“I talked with some people I coached with and some former players I used to coach who are now coaching or still around the game of basketball that want to come,” Kiper said. “Triway girls coach B.J. Sanderson, who actually brought his team down here this summer to do some scrimmaging, has mentioned he wanted to come see us play, and the Clear Fork boys coach has talked about coming to watch as well.
“It will be a fun experience for me, but it will be a great experience for these girls,” he added. “For several of them, aside from a couple AAU tournaments, they don’t get out of South Carolina very often, especially to the cold of Ohio in the middle of January. It will be an interesting experience for them.”
Game 9 JAN 16 SUN 1:45 pm Warren Howland Tigers vs. Harvest Prep Warriors
This game pits a Division IV State champion with a full house returning from last year against one of the best post players in the state. Harvest Prep returns all ﬁve starters from last year’s championship team, and eight of its top nine players. It is no wonder that OGBR’s Tom Jenkins predicted that the Warriors will repeat.
“They’ve got to be the biggest favorite to win their division this season,” said Jenkins of the Warriors, who reeled off 20 in a row to win the Div. IV title with a sparkling 27-1 mark.
Game 14 JAN 17 MON 10:00 am Fort Loramie Redskins vs. Orrville Red Riders
This game pits one of the premier Div. IV programs in the state in Fort Loramie against a great Div. III program in Orrville.
If one-on-one guard match-ups entice you, this is a game you won’t want to miss. And not only are these two battling guards nimble with the ball, both can also act as bruisers when necessary.
The Redskins, who had another solid year at 19-5 last season, will trot 5-foot-10-inch senior Janel Olberding on to the court. The big-time track star is long and lean, possessing cat-like quickness and tremendous skills.
Game 15 JAN 17 MON 11:45 am Newark Wildcats vs. Kenton Ridge Cougars
This game should turn into a real catfight — literally and in terms of nicknames, when the Newark Wildcats try to tame the Kenton Ridge Cougars.
Kenton Ridge, which chalked up a solid 18-6 mark last year, will be making its third appearance at the Classic in the Country, while Newark, which ended the year at 9-13 last year, will be arriving in Amish Country for the first time ever.
The Wildcats are a real wild card in this basketball showcase. Young and inexperienced last year, they are not without the attributes to jump up and beat anybody on any given day, as Tom Jenkins said. “Just to show you how good they can be, last year they managed a season split with Div. I Final Four Reynoldsburg, who was one of the best teams in the state,”
Game 18 JAN 17 MON 5:00 pm Princeton Vikings vs. Midpark Meteors
Talk about lucking your way into a crowning achievement.
That is how Tom Jenkins feels about this match-up of a pair of teams that were at one point a mid-level contest, but following a rash of transfers, became one of the marquee contests in the Classic.
“This game was actually sort of a last-minute fill-in game, that has become one of the best games on the schedule, thanks to a lot of transfers for both clubs,” said Jenkins. “With all the movement, we’ve got about as much talent between these two teams as in any this weekend.”
Game 16 JAN 17 MON 1:30 pm Indian Hill Braves vs. West Holmes Lady Knights
That rumbling sound you hear may well be coming from the approaching clash of the Braves and Lady Knights, who will present a top-notch Div. II contest. These two teams have been building momentum over the past couple of seasons, and both have high hopes of making some noise all the way to the State tournament this year.
The Scott Rogers-coached Braves will bring Dr. Rogers’ intensity and discipline to the Reese Center. Led by dynamic point guard Nicole Bell, whom Tom Jenkins called, “Pound for pound the toughest player in the state,” Indian Hill has its sights set on extending its tournament run beyond last year’s loss in the Regional semifinal to Kettering Alter, which eventually made its way to State.
Game 12 JAN 16 SUN 7:00 pm Toledo Start Spartans vs duPont Manual (KY) Lady Crimsons
When duPont head coach Stacy Pendleton heard about Classic in the Country from Martin Clapp, one of the Purdue University coaches who was scouting the Lady Crimsons, he knew he had to check it out. “He told me that I needed to do whatever I had to do to get into this thing,” said Pendleton.
He did, and Classic co-director Tom Jenkins is always thrilled to bring in out-of-state teams that are the premier programs in their state.
duPont Manual, out of Kentucky, will bring with it an incredibly gifted group of talent, since Pendleton has all but one of his kids back from a 24-6 season last year. Older and wiser, this team is athletic, plays fast, pressures the ball end-line to end-line and is nine deep. The only pressure facing Pendleton to begin the season is who he will run out there as his starting ﬁve.
Game 20 JAN 17 MON 8:30 pm Walsh Jesuit Warriors vs. Hiland Lady Hawks
Walsh Jesuit graduated a lot of talent from last year’s Div. II Final Four team, which finished the season 23-3. But what hurt the Warriors more than that was the loss of a junior superstar, who transferred out and made Walsh Jesuit’s chances of a repeat trip to Columbus all the tougher.
Highly regarded point guard Rachel Theriot, who is as talented of a junior guard that there is in the state, left Walsh to go to Midpark, leaving the Warriors in need of a point guard.
Theriot’s leaving meant that Walsh Jesuit will now move from a get-up-and-down-the-floor team that ran the ball in a fast-paced offense, to more of a half-court set offense that will run through a pair of big post players. Liz Reeves, a 6-foot-0-inch big body underneath, will command a great deal of attention this season from opponents’ defenses.
Game 19 JAN 17 MON 6:45 pm Fairborn Skyhawks vs. Hathaway Brown Blazers
What at first glance might seem like a bit of an edge for Hathaway Brown becomes intriguing because this will be Hathaway Brown’s second game in the Classic in 24 hours. The big question is, can the Blazers recover in time to face an up-and-coming team in Fairborn, which finished 18-4 last season and a bonafide star and talented depth?
Fairborn head coach Steve Hannaford has turned around a struggling program in his three years there, going 10-11 and 14-8 before watching his youthful Skyhawks explode onto the scene last season.
Jaymee Veney, a force to be reckoned with inside, averaged almost 12 points and 12 rebounds per contest last season and has averaged 10 rebounds per year since her freshman season. Veney, who is headed for St. Francis University in New York next season, made life miserable for more than a few guards who tried their luck at driving the lane. She is far from the only player on this Fairborn team. She is joined by highly touted sophomore Alexis Gassion, and Brooklyn Pumroy, both of whom can fill it up on any given night. Gassion is an athletic wing player, while Pumroy is a versatile junior point guard who OGBR director Tom Jenkins lists in the top five point guards in the junior class in Ohio.
Game 13 JAN 16 SUN 8:45 pm Twinsburg Tigers vs. Myrtle Beach (SC) Seahawks
Twinsburg is coming off of a dream 23-2 that was derailed in Regional ﬁnals versus eventual Div. I champion Canton McKinley. Now, head coach Julie Solis wants to test her talented team against the best, and they got it in the Classic, having drawn two of the very best from Kentucky and South Carolina.
“We want to be tournament tested before we get to tournaments,” said Solis. “We’ve got some huge expectations.”
The spark igniting this talented squad is Malina Howard, the 6-4 junior who was a U.S. 18-U Olympian this past summer.
Game 2 JAN 15 SAT 11:45 am Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame Cougars vs. North Canton Hoover Vikings
One of the state’s most illustrious girls basketball programs has fallen on tough times recently, resulting in coaching change and the exodus of several key players from the program. Gone from Mount Notre Dame is coach Dante Harlan, who was a major contributor for years under former coach Dr. Scott Rogers as an assistant before taking over as head coach the past four seasons. Following Harlan’s dismissal, no less than eight Notre Dame players ﬂew the coop, among them a number of prized talents.
Game 5 JAN 15 SAT 5:00 pm Myrtle Beach, SC Seahawks vs. Toledo Start Spartans
What makes this contest an alluring one, aside from the fact that it pits one of the state’s top teams in Toledo Start against the South Carolina State champions, is that Myrtle Beach coach Brian Kiper is a former Triway Titans star. Kiper is looking forward to returning to his home area, and with him comes a team that returns four of its ﬁve starters from its championship team that went 29-1 last season. In all, he returns seven of his top eight players, and feels pretty good about his team as it prepares for an upgraded schedule this season, which he hopes will challenge his team even more.
Game 1 JAN 15 SAT 10:00 am Minerva Lions vs. Minster Wildcats
Why beat around the bush when it comes to pitting two great teams against each other in an event like the Classic? Tom Jenkins, Classic organizer and creator of the Ohio Girls Basketball Report, said succinctly, “This is as good of an opening game as we have had in our eight years at the Classic.”
Game 8 JAN 16 SUN 12:00 pm Toledo Central Catholic Fighting Irish vs. Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame Cougars
While the mass exodus from Notre Dame following the exit of head coach Dante Harlan may have depleted some of the talent from the Cougars’ program, it hasn’t done anything to squelch the competitive ﬁres which have built the school’s program into a juggernaut. New head coach Kelly Main has vowed to continue to strive for excellence, and will not use the personnel changes as an excuse.
“The transition has gone fairly smoothly,” said Main of the big changing of the guards. “We have taken the approach that we are going to focus on the things that we have control over and to not make excuses or dwell on the negatives that occurred throughout the offseason. We strive to have a purpose every day of improving ourselves in the classroom, on the ﬂoor, and outside of school as well. This is a great group of young ladies with tremendous overall character. We are taking the approach that we will simply out-work our opponents and try to get better in some aspect of the game each day.”
Game 3 JAN 15 SAT 1:30 pm Lakota West Firebirds vs. Northland Vikings
Andy Fishman’s Firebirds crew has plenty of experience in the Classic in the Country, having racked up an impressive 8-5 record over the ﬁ rst seven years of the showcase. Meanwhile, Dean Washington’s Columbus Northland crew will be making their ﬁrst appearance under the bright lights of one of the nation’s premier girls basketball events.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Firebirds will be a heavy favorite.
“Northland is quickly emerging as one of the premier challengers in Div. I to Brookhaven in the Columbus area,” said Tom Jenkins. “They’ve got three legitimate top prospects and the best player on the ﬂoor in sophomore Alexis Peterson.”
Game 7 JAN 15 SAT 8:30 pm Columbus Africentric Nubians vs. Hiland Lady Hawks
Simply put, this contest is one in which both coaches and teams look forward to. After Africentric came along, it quickly became one of the Ohio small school program’s greatest rivalries, as the two teams kept a vigilant lookout on the other as each season progressed, knowing that they would more than likely have to get through the other to win a State title.
That has changed this season with Africentric, who ended last year at 18-6, sliding up a notch to Div. III, but thanks to the Classic, the rivalry continues. The contest will match wits between two of the state’s top coaches, Will McKinney and Dave Schlabach, who have both gained a mutual respect for each other’s coaching abilities and their respective programs.
According to both Tom Jenkins, director of the Ohio Girls Basketball Report, and Hiland coach Dave Schlabach, the signiﬁcance of the Classic weekend was something that they could have never foreseen when they got together seven years ago to build the model for what would become the Classic in the Country. They had no idea they were putting together a weekend extravaganza that would
become second to none in the nation, which would not only showcase Ohio’s girls basketball talent, but also honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as perpetuate the legacy of Hiland legendary boys basketball Coach Perry Reese Jr.
Game 6 JAN 15 SAT 6:45 pm duPont Manual (KY) Lady Crimsons vs. Twinsburg Tigers
For years, what has been driving Dave Schlabach’s Hiland program is his ability to introduce the game to kids at a young age. duPont Manual head coach Stacy Pendleton uses that same approach, promoting the importance of getting the fundamentals down at an early age through his team’s summer clinic.
Coach Pendleton is entering his seventh year as head coach of the Lady Crimsons, having built one of the premier girls programs in the state of Kentucky. Pendleton’s team is coming off of a ﬁne 24-6 effort last year. Throughout the past ﬁve seasons, Pendleton and his Lady Crimsons have fashioned a most-impressive 128-33 mark, and his career coaching record now stands at 240-98.
Game 4 JAN 15 SAT 3:15 pm Canton McKinley Bulldogs vs. Brookhaven Bearcats
What’s not to like about this contest? Pam and Willie Davis, coaches of the Bulldogs, bring back a Div. I State championship team that returns nearly the entire core of its team from a year ago. All they have to do to get a victory in the Classic is knock off head coach Reggie Lee, who has simply fashioned one of the great girls programs in Ohio girls basketball over the past 30 years at the helm.
According to Tom Jenkins, if you’re going to see one game at the Classic this year, this is the one to grab a ticket for — if you can ﬁnd one.
BERLIN — If you are into high-caliber high school girls basketball, the Perry Reese Center is where you should be this weekend.
Twenty games over a span of three days are on tap as the eighth annual Classic in the Country Challenge will take place in the rolling hills of Holmes County.
Three of the four reigning state champions will be on-hand at the Perry Reese Jr. Community Center this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend for the eighth installment of the Classic in the Country. Over the past seven years, CitC has grown into the top in-season girls’ basketball in the nation. And each season, it continues to better itself.
“[Event director] Tom Jenkins continues to bring in the best talent and best teams in the state,” Hiland coach and event coordinator Dave Schlabach said. “We’re excited about another really good year.”
Is Classic in the Country ready to take on a large national corporate sponsor? If Tom Jenkins, Dave Schlabach and the Classic staff have anything to say about it, they are more than ready. For several years, Schlabach has talked about bringing in a major sponsor to the ever-growing Classic, which is widely recognized as one of the premier girls high school basketball showcases in the nation.
The question is, can they entice a major sports-related company to join ranks with them?
If everything goes the way they hope, that will be the case for next year’s Classic in the Country IX, and the corporation joining them could well be Under Armour.
Every year over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, great girls high school basketball abounds at the Perry Reese Community Center in Berlin. For three days, the middle of winter in this quaint Amish community springs to life, and thousands of people flock to Hiland High School to witness the best Ohio girls basketball has to offer.
In the words of Anthony Brown, athletic director at Columbus Eastmoor Academy, “The Classic in the Country provides the most warm and congenial atmosphere that you could have at a multi-cultural event. It is the welcome center for parents, student athletes, administrators, fans and college coaches. You come away with a great feeling about our society. You come away with a feeling of oneness as a people. It is truly what scholastic athletics should be, and what scholastic athletics should represent.”
According to both Tom Jenkins, director of the Ohio Girls Basketball Report, and Hiland coach Dave Schlabach, the significance of the Classic weekend was something that they could have never foreseen when they got together seven years ago to build the model for what would become Classic in the Country Challenge. They had no idea they were putting together a weekend extravaganza that would become second to none in the nation, which would not only showcase Ohio’s girls’ basketball talent, but also honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as perpetuate the legacy of Hiland legendary boys basketball Coach Perry Reese Jr.
“Nowhere in our wildest dreams did we think it would become the national phenomena that is has become,” said Schlabach. “We didn’t ever think we would have a waiting list two years out to compete in this event. We never dreamed we would have 170-plus college coaches ascending upon Holmes County in the dead of winter; we didn’t think we’d have more than 40 members of the media cover this event; and never in our wildest imagination did we think we would have 20,000 basketball fans ascend to the Reese Center battling for a seat.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. always preached unity and oneness amongst all races and all people.
The Classic in the Country – a high school girls’ basketball event centered around the Dr. King holiday weekend – preaches those same values.
“I saw nothing but love, hospitality, interaction, good sportsmanship, and a lot of good humanitarianism,” said Marvin Blanks, a Martin Luther King Jr. reenactor hired to perform the famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the seventh installment of Classic in
the Country Challenge, held last weekend at the Perry Reese Jr. Community Center at Berlin.
Area teams: Hiland, Smithville, West Holmes Other teams: Canton McKinley, Cincinnati Indian Hill, Cincinnati Mt. Notre Dame, Columbus Africentric, Columbus Brookhaven, Dayton Chaminade Julienne, Dresden Tri-Valley, Marion Harding, Mason, Minster, Mogadore, North Canton Hoover, Potter’s House Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.), Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown, South Euclid Regina, Springboro, Springfield Kenton Ridge, Toledo Start, Twinsburg, University (Newark, N.J.), Wadsworth, Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, Waterford, West Chester Lakota West, Westlake, Youngstown Boardman…
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…
This Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, all four reigning state girls’ basketball champions – Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame (Div. I), Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown (Div. II), South Euclid Regina (Div. III), Columbus Africentric (Div. IV) – will be on hand at the Perry Reese Jr. Community Center for the seventh installment of Classic in the Country Challenge.
And, really, why wouldn’t they be? Over the past six years, the CitC has grown into the top in-season girls’ basketball event in the nation and has become a beacon for great talent, great coaching, great games, great… well, everything.
The place to be this weekend is Berlin. No, we’re not talking the Berlin on the other side of the pond. And you also wouldn’t expect the best girls’ basketball event in the country this weekend to be in Amish country, but that’s exactly where Berlin, Ohio, happens to be — and so is the three-day Classic in the Country…
The Classic in the Country has only been in existence for six years but in terms of tradition, the foundation is set in granite. It’s set in the hundreds of volunteers that keep the weekend moving smoothly. It’s set in the way Ohio Girls’ Basketball Report’s Tom Jenkins sets up the lineups and the games.
It’s set in the hundreds of college coaches that return to Berlin every Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.
It’s set in the small-town hospitality of Berlin and the surrounding communities.
It’s set in the tremendous facilities at the Perry Reese Junior Community Center at Hiland High.
It’s what keeps ’em coming back for more!
The phrase “Where champions compete” is often used by Classic in the Country organizers to describe the one-of-a-kind girls basketball tournament held at Hiland’s Perry Reese Jr. Community Center every January. With a 29-team field, including 22 seniors who’ve committed to Div. I schools, ready to set foot on the court in this year’s classic, those three words couldn’t be more true…
No venue as big as the Classic is worth its salt unless it has plenty of great grub to go with it, and thanks to a dedicated committee of volunteers at the helm of the food stand, there will be plenty of quality cuisine to satisfy basketball fans throughout the weekend.
Each year, the powerful and poignant words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reverberate throughout the packed Perry Reese Jr. Community Center during the Classic in the Country weekend, held in Berlin over the MLK holiday weekend. And each year, those words are pulled from an audio file of Dr. King’s greatest speeches. This year, however, as the Classic in the Country (CitC) preps for its seventh installment, coordinators decided to shake things up a bit, adding a Dr. King reenactor to deliver the infamous 18-minute “I Have a Dream” speech. Marvin Blanks, coined the “Orator of the Century,” will perform the speech immediately after Game 6 (Hathaway Brown versus Mount Notre Dame) on Saturday, Jan. 16 and before Game 7 (Potter’s House, Fla. versus Hiland).
Millions and millions of dollars have flowed through Holmes County the past six years over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, a time in the middle of winter when tourism is at its weakest in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country. That cash flow is attributed to the Classic in the Country, Holmes County’s high school girls basketball showcase, which has grown into one of the premier high school athletic events, not just in Ohio, but in the nation. Drawing hundreds of college scouts and coaches, tens of thousands of fans to Holmes County for a weekend full of basketball, entertainment and fun…
By ZACH BOLINGER Daily Record Sports Writer BERLIN — The Classic in the Country, a three-day basketball bonanza in Berlin, promotes itself as a place “Where Champions Compete and Hospitality is King.” It delivers a more profound message, though. Intentionally scheduled each year over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, the event — now […]
By ELLIOTT SCHREINER Daily Record Sports Writer BERLIN — As I sat down to write in my votes for this week’s Associated Press poll Sunday, I felt a renewed confidence in my job. Quite a lot of that had to do with seeing 13 games so far this weekend with about half of the best […]
From Staff Reports BERLIN — South Euclid Regina showed a loss two weeks ago to Lutheran East was a bit fluky. The Royals, ranked No. 3 in Div. III, put together the best performance of Saturday’s games, knocking off previously undefeated and No. 1 in Div. I West Chester Lakota West 64-58. In a game […]
BERLIN — Here’s a capsule look at Day Two at Classic in the Country V…
T-R Staff Report BERLIN — Hiland’s girls, one of the top teams in the state in Division IV, beat one of the standout teams in Division I, Columbus Brookhaven, 51-43 Saturday in the final game of the night at Classic in the Country V at the Perry Reese Jr. Community Center. The Hawks improve to […]
Berlin, Ohio — It didn’t take long for the fifth edition of the Classic in the Country to establish itself as a girls high school basketball event where respect has to be earned. Rankings? These kids don’t care about no stinking rankings.
By ELLIOTT SCHREINER Daily Record Sports Writer The following is a look at the opening day of Classic in the Country V. Waterford vs. East Canton (10 a.m.) There stands a good chance each of these teams will be playing late into March in Div. IV. East Canton (Div. IV, No. 8) has been a […]
By JEFFERY WILLIAMS T-R Sports Writer It’s now five years and going strong as the Classic in the Country V takes over the Perry Reese Jr. Community Center and the Berlin community this weekend. Many of the top girls’ basketball teams in the state and a few nationally ranked teams will attend the 3-day event, […]
By ELLIOTT SCHREINER Daily Record Sports Writer BERLIN — One of the toughest tickets in town to get Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend is at the Classic of the Country. And it’s not a problem at the ticket gate, like usual. Teams around the state of Ohio hope and dream, much like the fans, they […]
By JON SCHOLLES The Budget Sports Editor The Classic in the Country (CitC) Challenge has gone from “one of the best” to “the best girls” basketball event in America in what seems like the blink of an eye. Although, no one in the CitC camp is one bit surprised. “At the risk of sounding self-absorbing, […]
By ELLIOTT SCHREINER Daily Record Sports Writer BERLIN — The machine is getting wound back up again. The Classic in the Country will take its fifth go-round at the Perry Reese Community Center this weekend. The showcase, which runs Saturday, Sunday and Monday, features pretty well everything the state has to offer in girls basketball, […]
By JOHN HOWLEY OGBR Staff Writer How many times have you been looking through the media guide during Classic in the Country Challenge and come across the Weatherman’s predictions and thought to yourself, “What was this guy thinking?” “I know I think that sometimes after the games are over,” the Weatherman said. Well, if you […]
By JOHN HOWLEY OGBR Staff Writer For the past four years in January, the tiny town of Berlin has welcomed in some of the most talented basketball players the state of Ohio has to offer. This year will be no different as 29 teams take part in Classic in the Country V. One group of […]
Five years ago, Hiland girls’ basketball coach Dave Schlabach and Ohio Girls Basketball Report author Tom Jenkins created Classic in the Country Challenge to generate some interest in traveling to Holmes County during the off-season. By bringing in more than two dozen of the very best girls basketball team in the state of Ohio to square off during one exciting weekend, they thought they could inject some excitement into the county.
“Conservatively, the Classic generates more than $1 million per year,” said Shasta Mast, director of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. Mast uses a statewide formula based on the average amount of money a tourist spends when staying overnight in an area, as well as one who comes and visits for the day.
In a month, some of the best teams and players in Ohio high school girls basketball will descend on Berlin for the fifth annual Classic in the Country Challenge from January 19-21. This season, the event will welcome the reigning state champions in Division I (Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame) and Division IV (Columbus Africentric), along with Div. II finalist Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown. In addition, out of state powers Lexington Catholic (KY) and Bishop McGuinness (NC) will be in town.
By TIM ROGERS 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 […]
By ZACH BOLINGER Daily Record Sports Writer BERLIN — The Classic in the Country promotes itself as a place “Where Champions Compete.” The proof is in the pudding … or rather, the production. “We’ve had 75 percent of the state champs here in the three years that we’ve been doing this,” said Ohio Girls Basketball […]
By ZACH BOLINGER Daily Record Sports Writer BERLIN — Cierra Bravard was taller than her kindergarten teacher. These days, the 6-foot-5 Sandusky Perkins junior continues to shoot up the charts. Despite her state-ranked team losing to both Cincinnati Princeton and Cincinnati Oak Hills this weekend, Bravard did what many players at the Classic in the […]
By JOE SCALZO The Vindicator Sports Writer If you wind down Ohio route 62 just out of Navarre, past the cow crossing, the three or four horse-and-buggies and the sign that says, “Visit McDonald’s! Sugarcreek’s newest restaurant,” you’ll come to the little town of Berlin, in Holmes County, deep in the heart of the world’s […]
By CRAIG GIFFORD Daily Record Staff Writer BERLIN — Ben Mast has had to work very hard to accomplish all that he has. The owner of the Holmes County Amish Flea Market in Walnut Creek, Mast lost his right arm to a farming accident in 1967. From then on, Mast has had to work a […]
By CRAIG GIFFORD Daily Record Staff Writer MILLERSBURG — The Sandusky Perkins girls basketball team traveled to Berlin this weekend for a pair of basketball games as part of the Classic in the Country. However, Saturday’s loss to Cincinnati Princeton and this afternoon’s match-up with Cincinnati Oak Hills was the farthest thing from the players’ […]
By ZACH BOLINGER Daily Record Sports Writer BERLIN — For the fourth straight Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, the small town of Berlin is doing it up big. Hiland High School, Ohio Girls Basketball Report founder/director Tom Jenkins and close to 250 volunteers are set to again put on Classic in the Country IV. […]
By LAUREL SCHEFFEL T-G Sports Writer Forget the state girls basketball tournament. Ohio teams should just try to earn an invitation to the Classic in the Country Challenge at Berlin, Hiland. Over the weekend, 30 of the best teams in the state participated in the three-day event that drew scouts from 125 colleges around the […]
By ZACH BOLINGER Daily Record Sports Writer BERLIN — Holmes County and handcrafted items go together. It’s no different with the Classic in the Country and its concessions. Holly Troyer, Deb DeSeyn and Naomi Troyer led a food club of 90 volunteers that served just homemade food. The trio of Troyer’s and DeSeyn organized a […]
By DAVE MAST The Holmes County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism rolled out the red carpet to patrons visiting the second annual Classic in the Country Challenge over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Camping out in the lobby area at the Perry Reese Community Center, where visitors from more than two dozen teams […]
Second annual Classic in the Country set to tip off Saturday at Perry Reese Jr. Community Center By ZACH BOLINGER Daily Record Sports Writer Tucked away in the heart of Berlin’s Amish country is an 1,800-seat gymnasium — one of a kind as far as high school facilities are concerned. A vast majority of the […]
By DAVID HARPSTER BERLIN — When the village decides to throw a party, almost everyone has a hand in the festivities. That was the case this weekend when Hiland High School played host to the inaugural Classic in the Country Challenge. The guests of honor were 33 girls basketball teams from around the state, fans, […]
By CRAIG GIFFORD BERLIN — Area girls basketball fans will be treated to some of the best girls basketball action from around the state over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Thirty-three of Ohio’s top girls teams will compete in 20 games in the first-ever Classic in the Country to be held at Hiland’s Perry […]