By BRETT MARSHALL
If you're a high school basketball fan, mark your calendar for Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011.
That will be when Class 6A Garden City and Class 3A Holcomb, the only high schools in Finney County, will meet for what is believed to be the first time in both girls and boys basketball. The games will take place on the final day of the Roundball Classic, an event that for years tipped off the basketball campaign but has not been played since 2004.
No one is sure if the Garden City and Holcomb basketball teams have ever been on the same floor to compete. It will, however, generate interest in Garden City, Holcomb, Finney County and the southwestern Kansas community.
The Roundball has now been resurrected thanks to the efforts of new Garden City High School Athletic Director Martin Segovia and his Holcomb counterpart Jarrod Stoppel.
It will be played Dec. 1-3 and, in addition to the two local schools, will bring in Del City, Okla., and Pueblo, Colo. East.
"Both of these schools have strong traditions in basketball and we're excited to bring tournament basketball back to Garden City and Finney County," said Segovia, "This is good for the community and for area basketball fans."
Stoppel even admitted to both parties working to resurrect the tournament for quite some time now.
"We had been looking for some alternatives for early December as much as a year ago," Stoppel said Thursday night. "Bill Weatherly (former GCHS athletic director) and I had some discussions and since Martin assumed the duties, we've talked off and on about putting this together. We're excited to be part of this. We get two additional home games as does Garden City."
The format calls for Garden City and Holcomb each to host its first two respective games on Thursday and Friday. Garden City is tentatively scheduled to meet Del City, Okla. on Thursday and Pueblo East on Friday, with Holcomb switching opponents on those two nights.
On Saturday, all four teams move to Garden City Community College's Perryman Athletic Complex, which seats approximately 2,500, for the final day. Del City and Pueblo teams will meet in afternoon games with the Holcomb and Garden City girls and boys teams being showcased that night.
"It sounds exciting and will be a big challenge for us," said Holcomb boys coach Scott Stegman, who played on the 1986 Holcomb Class 2A state championship team. "To my knowledge, the schools have never played. Being so close, it is a good match-up. Both schools have a lot of good young players. I think it's great for the county. I know we'll be excited to be able to play at Perryman again. We missed not being there during the Hi-Plains League tournament (held last week). It's a great venue and close for our students and fans."
Garden City's first-year head coach Jacy Holloway was also thrilled with the news of the Classic and its format.
"I'm pretty excited for it to get this off the ground and rolling," Holloway said. "(Segovia) has done a great job of putting this together. Playing out at Perryman will be a great atmosphere for the game. A lot of people around here have probably been hoping for this for a long time. Competition is a good thing."
Holloway said the fact that the Buffs are a 6A school and the Longhorns were a 3A school, made little difference.
"I'm not worried about it," he said. "We play Ulysses already (4A), and schools the size of Holcomb, Ulysses and Scott City play up to 5A and 6A schools, too."
Holloway cited his own high school experience of growing up in Moundridge (2A) and six miles down the road was 3A Hesston.
"It was a great rivalry and we didn't worry about one team being from a bigger class or smaller class," Holloway said. "I think the entire event will be great for basketball fans around here."
David Upton, head girls coach at GCHS, said he is familiar with the Del City schools since he is a native Oklahoman and moved to Garden City from that area.
"Del City's girls won their state tournament a couple of years ago and have a good, strong tradition," Upton said. "We'll certainly see some good basketball with them coming up here."
Both Segovia and Stoppel said plans for 2012 and beyond were still being discussed. At the least, the tournament will remain a four-team event as it will be in its inaugural season.
The two administrators said it is still possible the field could expand in 2012, and include another area school and a third out-of-state team. For now, though, it is Holcomb and Garden City. Longhorns and Buffaloes.
In recent seasons, Garden City has been competing in the Hays City Shoot-Out while Holcomb has been participating in the Scott City Invitational.
This season, Scott City and Holcomb became members of the newly-formed Great West Activities Conference that also includes Colby, Goodland, Hugoton and Ulysses.
Sounds like there will be a basketball stampede to the Perryman Athletic Complex on Dec. 3, 2011.