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16th Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop set for MLK holiday weekend

The 16th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop is potentially better than ever. That’s how promoter Eric Horstman likes to project his midseason high school basketball creation, a long-running area hit. And he has the incoming teams and players to back that.

“People appreciate good basketball,” he said. “We wanted to give local kids a chance to play on a national stage. I think we do a good combination of small schools, big schools, power houses and Ohio vs. the nation.”

The annual shootout will feature 38 teams over four days during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend from Jan. 12-15. All the games will be held at Fairmont’s Trent Arena in Kettering.

Kettering city manager Mark Schwieterman estimated the event generates an estimated $1.9 million to the local economy. “That’s not bad for mid-January in Dayton, Ohio,” he said. The event draws an estimated 20,000 spectators over the four days.

The Greater Western Ohio Conference will be represented by host Fairmont, Xenia, Trotwood-Madison, Miamisburg, Sidney, Springfield and Wayne. Two more GWOC programs – Tippecanoe and Springboro – will open Saturday’s play with a girls game.

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Other area teams committed are Versailles, Middletown, Franklin Monroe, Minster, Fort Loramie and Thurgood Marshall.

Topping that are seven prep schools, six of which were ranked among the nation’s top 10 in the preseason by USA Today. That includes No. 1 Findlay Prep of Nevada.

There also is a defending state champion: Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, which defeated Trotwood for the Division II title last season.

The Flyin’ alums who have starred in college and taken their games to the NBA are many and there’s no lack of emerging big-time players this time, either. Currently on the many rosters are six prep players who are 7 feet or taller, including Bol Bol.

That’s not a misprint. One of many sons of former NBA shot blocker extraordinaire Manute Bol, the 7-2 senior center is the nation’s consensus No. 1 player in the nation. He transferred from Mater Dei High School at Sana Ana, California, to Findlay Prep prior to the season. Thought to be joining John Calipari at Kentucky, he instead signed with Oregon.

Findlay Prep, loaded with 5-star Division I talent, is matched against Huntington Prep (W.Va.) in the second game of Friday night’s opening doubleheader. Fairmont will play upstart Spire Academy out of Geneva, Ohio, in Friday’s opener.

Other prep schools committed to Flyin’ are IMG (Fla.) Academy, Prolific (Calif.) Prep, La Lumiere (Ind.) and Aspire Academy (Ky.).

As usual, featured games are the last each day. IMG Academy is paired against Prolific Prep on Saturday. On Sunday, unbeaten Garfield Heights gets Prolific Prep, followed by the nightcap of unbeaten Springfield vs. Cleveland Heights. Monday’s final Flyin’ game has unbeaten Wayne vs. Upper Arlington and Notre Dame signee Dane Goodwin.

That’s just some of the teams, players and matchups fans can expect to see. What they won’t see is pregame dunking. The Ohio High School Athletic Association has informed Horstman – among other things – teams will not be allowed to dunk in warm-ups or risk a technical foul.

“For whatever reason they want to do that to me,” Horstman said. “I’m apologetic that a staple of the event – pregame dunks – and that’s something I enjoy just as much as any fan, but right now is out of my control. I can’t do anything about it.”

Reserved seating sold out within 48 hours of the October media conference to announce participating teams. General admission seating remains for all four days.

For more ticket information see flyintothehoop.com.

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