The 2005 edition of the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic is slated to kickoff on December 27 at Terre Haute North High School with perhaps the most balanced field in the renewed history of the tournament.
Fourteen teams will repeat their participation in the tournament from last year with two new schools, Owen Valley and Crawfordsville, joining the fray.
Gary Fears, President of the Pizza Hut THDMA Co-op, said the 19 Pizza Hut restaurants in the Wabash Valley area are proud to be a sponsor of this event in its sixth year.
"This year's tournament is shaping up to be another exciting event, said Fears. "We are delighted to have Crawfordsville and Owen Valley, two 3A schools, join this year's field. Several teams have outstanding returning players, and that should provide for a very balanced tournament."
The Northview Knights will be taking part in the tourney and hope to reverse their early season fortunes that have left them with a 1-4 mark. The Knights are no stranger to the tournament, boasting two championships in the six year history of the Classic.
Northview drew Greencastle (3-3) in their opening game which is scheduled for 1 p.m. on December 27. The opening game of the tournament is set to tipoff at 10 a.m. as West Vigo and Owen Valley square off.
The Patriots are flying high in the early season, boasting a perfect 6-0 mark following a pair of two point wins heading into the next weeks tournament. West Vigo has gotten off to a slow start under first year head coach Tommy Thornton. The Vikings are hoping to reverse the results of an earlier 67-46 defeat that the Patriots dealt them on December 3.
In the second game of the afternoon, Crawfordsville (1-6) will face Rockville (4-3). The Athenians have fallen on hard times this season, giving up an average of 65 points per game while scoring only 53 per contest. The Rox are looking for consistency after alternating wins and losses in the last four games.
Next up is Northview taking on a Greencastle squad that has plenty of scoring power, boasting a pair of 80+ point games and another in which they tallied 73. The Tiger Cubs have also given up their share of points, allowing nearly 66 per game. Both teams will be looking for a strong start to the tourney and to get the middle half of their season off on the right note.
In the final game of the bracket, Monrovia (0-5) and Bloomfield (4-3) will square off.
The Bulldogs have had a rough beginning to the year after losing key players to graduation from last year's 18-6 record and fifth place tourney finish.
Monrovia has lost their first five games by an average of nearly 20 points a game and is coming off a 90-53 loss to Cloverdale on December 16. The Cardinals have meanwhile won their last two games and are always a tough matchup under coach Ron McBride.
In the evening, beginning at approximately 4 p.m., Bethesda Christian (3-3) is set to face Terre Haute South.
The Braves, following up a semistate run and 22-6 mark last year, are suffering a graduation hangover after the loss of the talented, IU-bound Armon Bassett among others. South is 1-5 this season and will face off with the Patriots who are at .500 this year under second-year coach Scott Miller.
Marshall, Ill. is led by Derek Eitel, who is averaging nearly 16 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. They will face Riverton Parke who is 2-4 this season under first year head coach Michael Menser, a former ISU hoops standout.
The 7 p.m. game should be one to watch, as Sullivan (4-1) and receiving 19th place votes in the 3A Associated Press Poll along with Owen Valley, will take on the host Terre Haute North Patriots who are 30th in the coaches poll this week.
The final contest of the evening will be Turkey Run (1-5) against South Vermillion (2-5). The Wildcats have been the hard luck losers of four games by six points or fewer. The Warriors, meanwhile, have allowed just 42.8 points per game, but have only averaged 38 on the offensive end. However, they did win their first game of the year in their last game versus Union and hope to build on the victory.
Terre Haute North Athletic Director, Ron Clinkenbeard, believes the area is going to see another great four days of high school basketball. "Terre Haute North is pleased to be hosting this great boys' basketball tournament. Building on the success of the tournament in its first five years, we look forward to an exciting four days of competition."
Tickets are $14 for the entire tourney and single day tickets are $5 each and will be on sale at the door.