Centennial hoops celebration
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Starting March 13, the boys state high school basketball tournament will take place for the 100th time.
With that in mind, the Secondary School Activities Commission has been busy in recent months.
Among the SSAC's plans to mark the occasion are a banquet on March 12, the publication of a pictorial history to include photos of all 229 state championship teams, the showing of news footage of 45 tournaments, the unveiling of a commemorative logo, the display of photos and memorabilia and the recognition of former players, coaches, officials and cheerleaders.
The tournament is scheduled for March 13-16 at the Charleston Civic Center.
Amid all the festivities, however, the playing of the 100th tournament itself will not be overlooked.
"For those 24 boys basketball teams that will show up for this year's event, they're really not going to be caring too much about the previous 99 years because this is their event,'' said Butch Powell, assistant executive director of the SSAC, at a Thursday morning press conference at the Civic Center. "So we didn't want to do anything to disrupt the state tournament for those young men.''
The most challenging project was finding team photos for 99 years of champions, a list that includes such long-forgotten schools such as Burnsville, Wallace, Parsons, Pax and others.
As of Thursday morning, 228 of the 229 had been uncovered, leaving only the 1917 Parkersburg champs, but Powell said he fully expects to find the Big Reds photo when he visits the Wood County Board of Education office today.
The pictorial history, which also will include stories on such Cinderella teams as the 1930 Hundred Hornets and the 1945 Normantown Vikings, will be given to attendees of the March 12 banquet and will be sold at the Civic Center during the tournament.
The banquet, scheduled for the Civic Center, is expected to draw 2,000 people, said Fred Persinger, a longtime sportscaster who worked with the SSAC in planning the event.
"It's very, very ambitious on our part,'' Persinger said Thursday, "but we think we can put 2,000 people in there. When you're celebrating an event such as the boys 100th high school basketball tournament, think about that for just a few minutes - all the years, all the teams, all the players. I think we will sell the thing out.''
As keynote speaker, the SSAC invited East Bank native and former West Virginia University and NBA great Jerry West, but he declined, citing his duties as consultant with the Golden State Warriors. West, however, promised to prepare a video of his state tournament reminiscences to be shown at the banquet.
The SSAC then invited Mullins native and former Marshall great Mike D'Antoni and, though he initially accepted, was forced to bow out in November when he took the Los Angeles Lakers coaching job. But like West, he promised to submit a video.
The SSAC then rounded up six banquet speakers:
The news videos, which include footage of the Lewis D'Antoni-coached 1955 Mullins championship team, will be shown on television monitors throughout the Civic Center during the tournament and will be shown as part of the banquet activities.
The new logo depicts a basketball with the words "100 Years ... Celebrating Boys Basketball'' superimposed on a blue outline of the state. It will be used in the commemorative program and will be emblazoned on the Civic Center floor inside the foul lane during the tournament. It also will appear on banners that will be mounted throughout the Civic Center.
Reach Mike Whiteford at firstname.lastname@example.org.