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NAS tourney expansion to boost local economy

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By Dave Taylor

Carroll County High School will host the seventh annual North American Stainless Basketball Classic on Dec. 21-23. Local officials hope the tournament will bring a boost to the local economy as players, coaches and fans of competing schools from around the state will spend time and dollars in local hotels, restaurants and stores.

Next week’s event will be the most aggressive effort in the history of the tournament, according to Carroll County Athletic Director and Lady Panthers varsity coach Randy Mefford.

In past years boys’ and girls’ varsity teams alternated years in hosting the tournament, with girls hosting an eight-team event one year and boys hosting the tournament the following. Next week for the first time, both boys and girls will be competing during the same year.

“This will be our biggest one ever,” Mefford said. “This will be the first time that the tournament will feature both the boys and girls playing.”

Mefford said the Carrollton/Carroll County Tourism is involved as a co-sponsor this year. The tournament has doubled in size, meaning 16 teams will be participating, including 14 from other counties.

“We’ll be having teams from eastern Kentucky and some from western Kentucky, and some of them will be coming from pretty far away,” Mefford said. “The players and their fans will need hotel space. They’ll be spending three days in our community. That’s why we got the tourism people involved so we can show our visitors what we have to offer here in Carroll County.”

“Randy and (boys’ varsity coach) Carroll Yager came to us for help because this was an opportunity for a bigger tournament and for bringing people in from outside of our area,” Rhonda Crutcher, director of the Carrollton/Carroll County Tourism, said. “Of course there are some local teams playing but there will be families coming from out of the area across the state. It’s good for our hotels, our restaurants and a good economic impact as a whole for the community.”

The tournament began as a means to provide more home games for local fans of high school basketball, Mefford said. Carroll’s teams had been playing in holiday tournaments for a number of years but always had to travel somewhere else to participate.

North American Stainless has been the corporate sponsor of the tournament since the holiday event began in 2003, Mefford said. “When we first started thinking about hosting our own tournament we got word that they (NAS) might be interested in being involved. They have been very cooperative. It’s been a good partnership.”

Participating teams are selected by invitation. Mefford and Yager emailed schools from all over the state last spring to generate interest in the tournament and selected participants from schools who indicated an interest and availability.

“We hope that our visitors will enjoy their stay here and will want to come back at other times in the year when the weather is better to enjoy what we have to offer in Carroll County,” Crutcher said. “We’re really excited about everybody coming.”

The classic opens at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 21 with a girls’ varsity contest between Gallatin County and Ludlow. Following that game Gallatin’s boys will match up with Beth Haven at 10:45 a.m. Larue County meets St. Henry in boys action as the afternoon session gets underway at 12:30 p.m.

Girls return to the floor at 2:15 p.m., with Oldham County meeting Monticello. Lawrence County’s girls meet Boyd County at 4 p.m.

Carroll County’s teams take the floor for back-to-back games with the Panthers meeting the Raiders of Trimble County at 5:45 p.m. The Lady Panthers will play Louisville Moore at 7:30 p.m., in the final girls’ contest of the day.

Shawe Memorial High School’s Hilltoppers from nearby Madison will face Logan County in Monday’s final boys’ game, beginning at 9:15 p.m.

Second round games in both the boys’ and girls’ winners’ and losers’ brackets will be played on Tuesday, Dec. 22, beginning at 9 a.m. Third round games to determine the championship, third place, fifth place and seventh place finishes will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 23.

The price of admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students each day. The admission price is good for all day, according to Mefford. An adult tournament pass, good for all three days, is available for $12.