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February 6, 2019

The New Martinsville Rotary Challenge completed its ninth year. There are so many people needed to organize an event like this, and these past few years, The Challenge has grown to 12 high school teams - four girls teams and eight boys teams.

In the Rotary Challenge's earlier years, the basketball smorgasbord back then featured all eight Region I teams, including three that were ranked in the top five in Class AA - Magnolia, Weir and Ravenswood. The whole concept of a regional event came about when the WVSSAC went to the larger regions. At the same time, the SSAC had the coaches seed the teams in the region for home court advantage for the playoffs.

This was important, because these changes created some problems. It would be quite a trip for teams like Weir and Oak Glen, from the north, to play teams like Roane, Ritchie, Ravenswood, and Point Pleasant in the south.

However, the answer was simple: Go halfway, and play in New Martinsville.

"It's a win-win situation for everyone," said the past project chairman, Jim Blatt. "I feel strongly that all the other regions will follow suit by putting on showcases like ours down the road."

Not only were the local fans able to watch four top-notch high school basketball games in one spot, but the coaches were able to scout all the other teams without having to travel.

The cost of admission was $7 for all the games. Admission for one game was $5 for adults and $3 for students, as it still is today.

With many of the Class AA teams going to Class A, teams were moved around - with the girls teams being added a few years ago.

This event couldn't happen without the help of many of our basketball boosters and the New Martinsville Rotary Club members. So many have come on board to help make this Region I basketball challenge a success, and I want to recognize the many helpers, contributors and basketball fans who came to watch a day of outstanding boys basketball.

Jim has left as the project director, but still comes back to help and welcomes the teams at the front entrance and gives the coaches some gifts along with t-shirts for all the players.

There were many volunteers who helped at the front door, welcoming players, cheerleaders and fans. There was also a mammoth hospitality room for all the players and cheerleaders with all kinds of grub, all donated by businesses along with a nice Rotary monetary gift to buy food.

Besides all of that, there were more volunteers - at the scorers table announcing, keeping fresh water at the benches, sweeping and mopping the gymnasium floor, picking up trash in the stands as well as at the bench areas. It was awesome.

Then there are the referees. Challenge organizers not only pay their fees. They give them presents from local vendors and businesses, plus feed them in the hospitality area.

When you have something like this and have many volunteers, you might miss a few names. I'm sorry if I do miss someone or some business.

Quinet's Restaurant was a very big donor. The restaurant not only fueled the players with t-shirts, they worked and donated food as well. Awesome stuff, Matt and Nancy Quinet.

Besides chairpersons Rich and Cami Williamson and Jane Ann Gamble, there were Missy Shimp, Tina Glover, Pat and Holly Mirandy, Darren and Liza Glover, Lissie Howell, Jodi Fluharty, Steve and Heather Postlethwait, Jim Blatt, Brian Castilow, Brian Croasmun and our local radio stations. There was also Teran Malone and MHS Channel 4, Hunter Riley with music, John Smith and his MHS FFA members, Don Fannin, Carol Tallman, Dave Nice, Christy Stickler, John Charles Mensore, and Patrick Mirandy, Nikki Hardman and Jeff Gaiser at the scorers table, along with Brian Croasmun.

In addition, there was help from Blue Racer, Long John Silvers, Wendys, McDonalds, Witschey's, Neil Marshall and members of the New Martinsville Rotary. Last, but not least, there was our very own R.J. Goode as commentator.

Please forgive me if I left someone out!

There were many things going on the same day as the Rotary Challenge. There was also wrestling going on Friday and Saturday at Ritchie High School.

Notably, folks are trying to get Class A member schools with wrestling in their own class at the state tournament. At the present time, Class 1A schools share their class with Class 2A schools.

Anyway, I would like to congratulate Beallsville and the Magnolia Blue Eagles for winning their girls games in the Rotary Challenge, and to Ritchie, Tyler Consolidated, Wheeling Central and the Valley boys teams for their wins as well!



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