Large crowds, great games and big performances highlighted another great Mountain Classic. This was my 3rd early January tournament with the station, and I would have to say it was the best.
The attendance for the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday games seemed to be about the same as last year, but the Friday games were another story. According to the KHSAA web site, the John C. Combs arena seats 4895. There were that many people and then some. The building was hot, the energy was great and it was an atmosphere that reviled a Region Tournament. Saturday's games also had great attendance with great fans. Rarely will you find that much energy in a building in a mid-season tournament. It was nearly electric.
Most of the games (not all, but most of the games) were excellent and were decided in the final minutes. For those of you who missed it, the 5th place was a heck of a ball game that Johnson Central won 71-68 when a 40 foot shot at the buzzer was blocked. The scores of the semi-finals, 3rd place and Championship games were not truly indicative of how close they truly were.
Several players put on a show. Tate Cox (Knott Co. Cent.) dropped 32 in their semi-final win. Klay Maggard (Perry Co. Cent.) was physically dominate all tournament and was named MVP. Charlie Banks (Letcher Co. Cent.) and Ian Welch (Johnson Cent.) played a game of one-upmanship throughout the 5th Place game. And don't forget Welch's 2 1/2 dunks in their win over Allen Central. But for my money, the player I think I enjoyed watching the most was Jordan Amis (Perry Co. Cent.). He made things go for the Commodores, including 14 assists in their semi-final win.
What we learned
1.) Perry Central is the favorite to win a very tough 14th Region.
2.) For Knott Central to make a deep tournament run they need at least one of their roll players to step up and have a big performance. (Robert "Buttermilk" Caudill, Braxton Ratliff, Zack Davis, Jarrod Amburgey, Logan Bartrum)
3.) Hazard needs to become mentally tougher to win close games.
4.) When Letcher Central is on, they are ON! When they are not, they are NOT!
5.) Basketball is live and well in the Mountains.
6.) When it's all said and done, the importance of the Mountain Classic is measured in scholarships (100 scholarships at $1,000 a piece).
Do you have any observations on the Mountain Classic? I would to hear from some of the people who attended (and from those that didn't).
- Jeff Archer