When Martin Segovia became the athletic director at Garden City High School, he had numerous goals and objectives on his to do list.
One of those will be realized on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the inaugural Clarion Inn Southwest Kansas Basketball Classic.
That's when GCHS and Holcomb High School will host girls and boys teams from Del City, Okla., and Pueblo East (Colo.) for a three-day basketball extravaganza.
"It was very important to me to see that we got to play home games early and to bring quality teams back to Garden City just like they used to for the Roundball Classic," Segovia said a couple of days prior to the Classic's tip-off.
Both the Buffaloes and the Longhorns teams will get two home games when they trade opponents with the two out-of-state schools.
Booster clubs from both schools have stepped up in their support of the event, providing meals for the visiting teams on both Thursday and Friday nights. The Clarion Inn, the major sponsor of the event, has provided several complimentary rooms for each team. Segovia said that the Finney County Convention and Tourism Bureau also contributed support for the event.
"We get home games, Holcomb gets home games, we get quality teams coming in and we bring people to the community," Segovia said about the upside of having the event. "Everybody's pitching in and doing their share. We're really fortunate to have people like we do at the Clarion Inn. They're a great partner to support this."
It's Saturday, however, that will be the buzz for local and area basketball fans.
That's when, for the first time, Holcomb and Garden City meet on the basketball floor in a varsity game.
Despite being just seven miles apart, one wonders why these two high schools in Finney County have never met in basketball. They've also never played in football.
The simple explanation would be the difference in the size of the two schools.
Garden City is a Class 6A school, one of the biggest in Kansas, with 1,976 in grades nine through 12, while Holcomb is a Class 3A school with an enrollment of 247.
While Garden City has played Ulysses (Class 4A) in recent years in both football and basketball, and the past two seasons Class 3A Scott City in football, the neighbor schools simply have not had any serious discussions about meeting up on the football field or on the basketball court.
Now, everybody gets to experience it for the first time on Saturday night when the Lady Longhorns face the Lady Buffaloes at 5 p.m. and the boys teams follow at approximately 7 p.m., with both games being played at Garden City Community College's Perryman Athletic Complex, a neutral site.
In talking with all four coaches at the two schools — Jacy Holloway (boys) and David Upton (girls) at Garden City and Chad Novack (boys) and Kelley Snodgrass (girls) at Holcomb — they are taking the cautious road in talking about Saturday night. And rightly so.
Both schools have big games on Thursday and Friday against teams from Oklahoma and Colorado that are expected to be talented, providing top-level competition to open their respective seasons.
And while Saturday is Game 3 of the Classic, there is little doubt that once late Friday night arrives after the second day is complete, all focus will be on Saturday.
Rarely does a sports fan, in this case basketball, get an opportunity to watch teams who are within earshot of each other compete. Especially when the school sizes are disparate.
In the case of Holcomb-Garden City, you've got kids who play against and with each other in the summer months, sometimes in the down times during the school year. They know each other, they are friends in many instances, and yet one can only anticipate how competitive they will be. There are players in Garden City who have family in Holcomb. There are players in Holcomb who have family in Garden City. Some have transferred to the other school.
Segovia has said that he would like to add a third area school into the mix for future Classic events, where the three area schools would switch playing the three "visiting" schools. The three local schools would have two home games and then all games would be played on the final night at the new gymnasium at GCHS, which will open in the fall of 2012. With a projected capacity of 2,500 to 2,600, the new gym will provide a wonderful venue and make the logistics for GCHS much easier. It also would mean that Holcomb and Garden City would not meet up in the event.
For two nights, Garden City and Holcomb get to play at home, something which the coaches from both schools agree is something they like. On Saturday, though, at a neutral site, all the eyes of southwest Kansas basketball fans will be on the Holcomb-Garden City match-ups.
Perryman Athletic Complex is where you'll want to be on Saturday.
Sports Editor Brett Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org