CLOVER — The Inaugural Clover Optimist Classic, a 16-team tournament showcasing big time boys and girls talent, swings into action Thursday in both gyms at Clover High School.
The action begins at 3 p.m. in the new and old gyms at CHS.
Bailey Jackson, head coach of the Blue Eagles and CHS girls head coach Sherer Hopkins are geared up for the three-day tournament.
“I am excited that we are hosting two great fields in the first year of our tournament,” said Jackson. “We want this to be a first-class event and look forward to seeing how our guys and girls teams respond to the challenge of competing against some quality basketball programs.
“Fans should come out and see the Eagles in action and catch some of the ACC-caliber recruits during the three-day tournament.”
Jackson said he was appreciative of the Clover Optimist Club’s willingness to sponsor the tournament.
Hopkins echoed Jackson’s sentiments about pre-holiday tournament on tap in Blue Eagle Country.
“We’re excited to be hosting a tournament this time of year, playing at home where we have outstanding community support,” Hopkins said. “It’s good that we are the host team and our players don’t have to travel the week before Christmas.”
Said Hopkins, “Our kids will benefit from the tournament experience when we return to region play after the holidays.”
Lady Blue Eagle point guard Aaliyah Knox agrees with her coach’s assessment.
“The tournament experience will help us,” observed Knox. “Competing against teams with different styles of play will help us when we get back to region play.”
Elizabeth Edmunds, the CHS girls leading scorer this season, sees the tournament as a positive experience for the players.
“It’s and opportunity for the team to keep playing without having to travel close to Christmas,” she said. “This will benefit our team.
“We’re excited to be hosting the tournament.”
Boys teams competing in the much-anticipated tournament include York, Indian Land, Charlotte Christian, Providence Day, Blacksburg, Broome, Chesterfield and host Clover.
Girls teams slated for action this week include Indian Land, Spartanburg Christian, Blacksburg, Eau Claire, Seneca, Cuthbertson (NC), a traveling team from Brisbane, Australia and the host Clover girls.
The tournament features several Division 1 players, including Clemson University commit Patrick Rooks of Charlotte Christian and Seneca’s Kianna Holland, a Duke commit.
“Another future college player to be showcased is Providence Day’s Jordan Watkins, who has 10-plus D-1 offers on the table,” noted Jackson.
Thursday’s action begins with the York Comprehensive High School Cougars of first-year coach Larry Dixon pitted against Charlotte Christian at 3 p.m. in the new gym.
Other Thursday boys games, all in the CHS new gym, include Chesterfield against Blacksburg at 4:30 p.m.
Broome and Providence Day are slated for a 6 p.m. tipoff, with the Blue Eagles hosting Indian Land at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday’s girls action will be held in the CHS old gym, with Blacksburg and Spartanburg Christian getting things started at 3 p.m. Next will be Seneca and Cuthbertson squaring off at 4:30 p.m.
The Lady Blue Eagles will entertain Indian Land at 6 p.m., followed by Eau Claire and Brisbane at 7:30 p.m.
Games will be played at the same starting times on Friday, with Saturday games beginning at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in both gyms.
The remainder of Saturday’s games will be played at 1, 2:30, 4 and 5:30 p.m. in the new gym, with the girls championship game at 4 p.m. and the boys title game slated for 5:30 p.m.