By KEVIN LYNCH
Daily Record Sports Writer
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.
Mount de Chantal from West Virginia was the first victim, falling twice to reigning state champ Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame and then to Cincinnati Winton Woods.
The Lions won their next four games over the next two seasons before the private school closed its doors.
The Cougars of Mount Notre Dame were the main culprit in mistreating the out-of-state teams during their four-year run as D-I state champions. The coaches from out of state are always seeking the best competition to see how their kids stack up against Ohio’s best.
Even one of the nation’s top teams, Potters House Academy out of Florida, tasted rare defeat, falling by three to Toledo Start after blasting Hiland by 23.
DuPont Manual (Ky.) coach Stacy Pendleton marveled at Twinsburg after the Tigers nipped the Crimsons on Saturday. “They are phenomenal. Nobody in Kentucky is that good,” he said.
Myrtle Beach, S.C., coach Brian Kiper said there is a big difference in the style of play between Ohio teams and Carolina hoops. The ability to make adjustments on the fly is the sign of a good team, he said.
Both Kiper and Pendleton commented on the more physical style of play by the Ohio teams.
Hiland coach Dave Schlabach pointed out that the teams coming in from out of state are at a disadvantage because they have to deal with the long road trips to get here, but most coaches are not into making excuses.
* I couldn’t believe my ears. Kiper has been living in South Carolina for four years, yet he didn’t slip one “Ya’ll” into his interviews.
“Four years down south doesn’t combat 34 years of living in Ohio,” Kiper quipped.
The former Triway player and coach still has his Ohio cell phone number. When his players were complaining about no service, he smiled and said, “I’ve got service.”
Let me tell you something about coach Kiper. He has it tough. During the offseason when he isn’t coaching girls basketball, he is the girls golf coach at Myrtle Beach High School. The Seahawks’ home course is right on the ocean. Must be tough.
* An amazing statistic that really caught my attention was the horrendous free throw shooting at Classic in the Country. These are among the best high school hoopsters in the state and beyond, yet the free throws clanked off the rim at an alarmingly high rate after the first day of action. There were 223 free throws attempted on Saturday. Only 131 of them fell, a dismal 59 percent. I could shoot 59 percent.
Things improved some on Day 2, thanks to a 12-for-12 effort from Lakota West’s Summer Reeves in a losing effort.
Through the first three games on Sunday, the free throw percentage for the six teams hovered around 70 percent (91-for 128), upping the total through the first 10 games to 63 percent.
It’s a good thing none of the games came down to needing a free throw to clinch the win.