Undertaking the annual task of presenting the Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop is daunting enough. Making certain the many matchups are must-see basketball is a bonus challenge.
That falls on Flyin’ creator Eric Horstman and his veteran go-to guy and Nike consultant John Stovall.
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“Every year he and I talk about who the best teams are in Ohio and the nation,” Horstman said. “We start gathering up contracts and in about August we start putting up the matchups. He does a lot of that. Remember, I’m a baseball guy putting on a basketball tournament. What I tell people is if it was a blowout, it was his matchup. If it was a great game, it was my matchup.”
The 16th annual midseason high school and prep school basketball event will feature 38 teams, 20 games, four days and one court. The show is anchored on the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, running from Friday through Monday. All games will be played at Fairmont’s Trent Arena in Kettering.
First up as usual is host Fairmont against Spire Institute out of Geneva, Ohio, at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Fairmont’s Jack Hendricks hit 14 three-pointers and scored a program-record 52 points less than two weeks ago.
Spire is a relatively new multi-sport campus much like IMG Academy in Florida. What makes this an intriguing matchup is Spire features former Dunbar standout guards DeVon Baker and Caleb McConnell. They both transferred after their junior seasons and prior to Chuck Taylor’s takeover of the Wolverines program from Pete Pullen.
It was on Stovall to land a high-end prep school matchup and he delivered in Friday’s nightcap when top-ranked Findlay Prep (Nevada) plays No. 5 Huntington Prep (West Virginia). Both rosters are loaded with eventual NBA prospects.
That includes Findlay’s Bol Bol, Manute’s 7-foot-2 son. Thought to be headed to the University of Kentucky, instead he signed with Oregon. He’s also tagged the No. 1 center in the nation and No. 3 player overall regardless of position.
There will be six games each of the following three days. Games start at 11:30 a.m. and conclude with the featured 8:15 p.m. finale.
“It’s a big jigsaw puzzle to put together, but we really try to make as many accommodations as we can,” said Horstman said.
As usual, Flyin’ is a mixture of national prep school powers and Ohio big- and small-school powers. It doesn’t get any better than Upper Arlington vs. Wayne in Monday’s final game. Upper Arlington was ranked No. 1 in Division I in this week’s first Associated Press boys state poll. Wayne was No. 2.
• The Tippecanoe and Springboro girls will open Saturday’s games. Last year Alter defeated Cleveland St. Joseph Academy 54-36 in the debut of a Flyin’ girls game.
• All reserved seats are sold out but daily general admission tickets are available. Cost is $18 daily and covers all that day’s games.
• A winter storm is expected this weekend. Horstman said most prep teams will arrive one day ahead of their scheduled game and expects all games to be played.