- Marc Pendleton Staff Writer
Xenia boys basketball coach Kent Anderson demands laser-sharp focus from the Buccaneers. But all that unravels when the Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop nears.
That’s why Xenia rescheduled a home game. Better to have a break before Flyin’ or risk a mental lapse.
“It’s what our kids look forward to,” admitted Anderson during Tuesday’s revealing of the 2018 Flyin’ schedule at Miami Valley Hospital South. “This is so big, we’ve moved our Friday game back to Thursday. I hope everyone realizes the magnitude of this event. This is the top event in the country.”
»FLYIN SCHEDULE: 38 teams, 20 games, 4 days
Fifteen area teams will participate in the 16th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop in January, including girls teams Tippecanoe and Springfield. Flyin’ creator Eric Horstman announced the usual mixture of national prep powers, Ohio giants and area big- and small-school teams that made the final cut. There will be 38 teams, playing 20 games over four days during the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend Jan. 12-15.
As usual, all the games will be played at Fairmont’s Trent Arena.
Area boys Greater Western Ohio Conference teams that will participate are host Fairmont, Xenia, Trotwood-Madison, Miamisburg, Sidney, Springfield and Wayne. Other boys teams are Versailles, Middletown, Franklin Monroe, Minster, Fort Loramie and Thurgood Marshall.
Tippecanoe will play Springboro in a girls game to begin the Saturday, Jan. 13 slate. In this past season’s Flyin’, Alter defeated Cleveland St. Joseph Academy in the girls debut.
National prep school powers Findlay Prep (Nev.) and Huntington Prep (W.Va.) will play in Friday night’s doubleheader nightcap. IMG (Fla) is matched against Prolific Prep (Calif.) to conclude Saturday’s games. On Monday, La Lumiere (Ind.) will play Aspire Academy (Ky.).
On Sunday, Middletown will play Kentucky power Covington Catholic and Springfield gets Cleveland Heights in the last of six games. Princeton, coached by former Colonel White and Bowling Green State University standout Steve Wright, joins Middletown as the only Greater Miami Conference reps.
As usual, there’s a top-flight player lineup that includes Ohio and national standouts. The top-ranked player appears to be 6-foot-10 Charles Bassey of Aspire, which relocated from Texas to Louisville this fall. The Nigerian native is ranked the No. 3 junior in the nation.
Horstman said at least four 7-footers are headed to Flyin’, including a 7-7 player from Spire Academy in Ohio. That’s where former Dunbar players DeVon Baker and Caleb McConnell transferred following last season.
Tipp girls coach Andy Holderman gave up a home game to play Springboro at Flyin’. The two GWOC girls programs are annually among the best in the area.
“With the atmosphere that this event brings, it’s truly an honor to be part of it,” Holderman said. “To let the girls play before a packed crowd and a tournament-type environment can do nothing but help. It’s something we’re really looking forward to.”
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. About 20,000 spectators annually attend Flyin’.
In all, more than 120 teams from throughout the country inquired about Flyin’. There are 45 Flyin’ alums who currently are on NBA or NFL rosters. In last summer’s NBA draft, a record eight Flyin’ alums were selected, including Franklin grad Luke Kennard (Duke) by the Pistons.
“In all honesty, I never thought it would become the monster that it is,” Horstman said. “And it has in a good way. 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, powerhouses and Ohio vs. the nation.”