It’s a tradition unlike any other, where boys drop their gifts and turn them in for basketballs.
Shooting hoops, winning games, causing upsets.
You name it, it can happen at the First Financial Wabash Valley Classic where tradition reigns.
“I remember back when the biggest schools in the state, the toughest schools in the state came to Terre Haute to play in that tournament,” says Roger Fleetwood, Owen Valley head coach.
It’s the sound of music to some ears.
“prestige wise, it’s exciting for me late in my career to finally get to be in it,” says Coach Fleetwood. “It’s my second year in it and I’m excited to be there.”
1916 was the very first Wabash Valley Tournament, which ended in 1972.
During those 56 years, 157 schools across the Hoosier state and 31 teams from Illinois tipped off against each other.
“It was restarted in 2000, with the Pizza Hut Classic,” says Gary Fears. “It was very successful- been very successful. Great attendance. And now, it’s the First Financial Wabash Valley Classic.”
“I think it is the best basketball tournament in the state of Indiana,” says Jeff Moore, Sullivan head coach. “It’s the most highly attended. It’s very very competitive.”
Even from the stands, the tradition behind Hoosier basketball runs deep.
“You just come because it’s a tradition to come,” says James Rice, senior. “You go buy the tickets, everything everybody wants.”
You see, tradition means something different to everyone.
“I mean, I’m going to Vincennes for college and I’m still going to be coming back here just to come to the games and everything,” says Rice.
“Fans love it,” says Fears. “The kids love to play in the tournament. So you couldn’t have it any better than high school basketball tournament in the state of Indiana.”
One thing brings us all together.
“I think, you know, growing up in Terre Haute, living in Terre Haute, Wabash Valley basketball is outstanding,” says Patrick Rady, Cloverdale head coach. “The people here love it.”
Tradition is alive and well and from talking with spectators here, they say this tourney isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The games started this morning at 10 Tuesday morning and will continue well into the evening.
Come to Terre Haute North and check out the action.
You can purchase a tournament pass for $20 or a day pass for $7.
Sports Director Grant Pugh has a full run down of Tuesday’s games.