Pitchin With Pritch: High school hoops feast; humbling surprise

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Looking forward to this coming weekend and traveling to Grand Island to take in this year’s Heartland Hoops Classic. 

A big day of basketball with what looks like on paper to be filled with a lot of great high school basketball games. 

The person that put this day of basketball together is Tito Martinez, the head boy’s basketball coach at Grand Island Central Catholic.

There will be eight games Saturday and that is a lot of basketball even for people who like the sport. 

I enjoy the day because I do like the game and enjoy seeing some really good players as well as teams. Plus, it gives me a chance to see a lot of old friends that I had the chance to make during my coaching career.  That is a hard day to beat in the fun column of things. 

I believe this is the 13th year of this event and it seems to get better each year. 

In the beginning, Coach Martinez would get one out-of-state team to come in and play one of the better teams in Nebraska. That was always an interesting match-up.

A few years ago, he was able to start bringing a team like Oak Hill Academy, located at Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.

Oak Hill is an elite team that doesn’t play in the regular Virginia high school season, but plays other schools that are more like small colleges in regards to their scheduling. 

These are schools that are pretty much filled with four and five star players that you will find on the rosters of the Dukes, KUs, North Carolinas and other top the NCAA teams of the nation. 

This year, he has brought in three of those kind of teams to compete. Two of them are going to play each other and one of them, IMG Academy, will play Millard North. 

Another match-up of the day will be the Ogallala vs Auburn game. It should be a very interesting day of basketball.

A bit of a surprise

Last Saturday turned out to be somewhat of a surprise day for me while attending the Plainsmen and South Platte games. 

The day had a lot of things going on, with little kids wrestling in the morning, that drew about 200 wrestlers to PCS. 

We also had TeamMates recognition planned for the day and the basketball games were all going to be played in the Pritchett Gym. 

That gym holds a lot of great memories for me and actually for a lot of former players. 

I have also had a number of players from other schools mention the fact they miss playing in the that gym because it had a basketball feel to it that a lot of new gyms don’t have anymore. 

I know I have a bias because of the good things that has happened there when I was coaching, So, I was happy when I was told there would be a game played there this year. Plus, the fact the new lights were in made the place even better. 

But there was more coming.

When the South Platte starters of both the girls and boys teams were announced, each one of them came and shook hands with me. 

That was a complete surprise and I am sure that the South Platte coaches had a lot to do with it. 

I was humbled by the act and thought it was classy act from a visiting team. I have to admit that I had some moisture in my eyes, considering those kids probably were only 6 or 7 when I was coaching. It was appreciated.


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