Thursday, December 7, 2006
Athletics has a way of bringing a community together.
In this particular case, high school basketball brings folks from two counties together.
The third annual Bi-County Tournament took to the court last week at Hickory Flat. It’s the first year for it to be held there. It’s the first year for Hickory Flat teams to participate.
I’m glad they’re in, and I was extremely pleased with the host folks and the host facility. The Lady Rebels and Rebels sport one of the nicest gymnasiums in North Mississippi and perhaps in the state.
I was able to attend this year’s event just one night, Thursday. But best I can tell, the tournament went off in fine fashion without a hitch. The staff at Hickory Flat rolled out the welcome mat. The hospitality room was great. I know I ate too much, as usual.
This tournament continues to have success written all over it.
I was honored a few years back to be in on the “original planning committee” for the Bi-County Tournament.
Our thoughts were – some of the best basketball teams in the State of Mississippi are right here in Marshall and Benton counties. So why not have our own tournament to showcase the athletes’ talents instead of our teams having to travel elsewhere? Plus, all the schools can profit some financially, too, rather than taking that money to a location farther away.
Another main reason we wanted to have such a tournament was to bring the basketball players, coaches and fans together in a competitive yet friendly atmosphere with a focus on sportsmanship. We’re all neighbors anyway, and what better way to get to know each other better than bringing everyone together for three nights under the same roof?
I commend Ronny Wilkerson, superintendent of Benton County Schools; Irene Walton, superintendent of Holly Springs Schools; and Don Randolph, superintendent of Marshall County Schools, for their support of this big event.
Each had brief comments in the tournament program, produced by Hickory Flat Attendance Center.
“I look forward to watching the competition since Marshall and Benton counties have such talented athletes as well as coaches,” Wilkerson wrote.
“It is truly a pleasure when the students of different local school districts come together for friendly competition,” Walton wrote. “It is an opportunity for social growth that cannot be equaled in any other arena.”
“The Bi-County Basketball Tournament provides our school districts the opportunity to showcase our student athletes,” Randolph wrote. “We are proud of their academic and athletic achievements.”
Those three statements describe the focus and the benefits of the tournament better than I ever could.
Hosting the tournament is hard work. Just ask the folks at Rust College (host in 2004) and Northwest Community College (host in 2005). Hats off to the Hickory Flat crew for a job well done.
But most importantly, congratulations to the basketball players, girls and boys, from Ashland, Byhalia, H.W. Byers, Hickory Flat, Holly Springs and Potts Camp for what proved to be some very entertaining basketball Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The bulk of the games were close – very close.
In the end this year, the H.W. Byers Lions and Lady Lions walked away with “the gold.”
In year one (2004), the champs were the Holly Springs Hawks and the Ashland Lady Blue Devils.
In year two (2005), the champs were the Holly Springs Hawks and the Byhalia Lady Indians.
We can’t wait until 2007.
And hopefully the 2006 tournament will help springboard our teams into success the rest of the season, particularly when postseason play begins.
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