The Chick-fil-A Classic will be starting a little later this season.
The Classic, one of the top high school basketball tournaments in the country, will be Dec. 26-29 at Richland Northeast High School. It is the first time the tournament, which is going into its 17th year, will begin after Christmas.
Tournament director Gary Fulmer said the reason for the move is because of the Richland Two School District calendar. The last day of classes is Dec. 21, which is a Friday, and that wouldn’t give enough time for the four days needed to play the tournament.
The tournament isn’t allowed to schedule games on Sundays.
“It has definitely been a challenge and tough so far. I didn’t find out about our school calendar until February,” Fulmer said. “Our brand for the tournament is to have it before Christmas, but we will make it work with the date we got.”
The new date has forced some teams to pass on the event because of scheduling conflicts, Fulmer said. The later date also will put it up against tournaments such as the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, which also begins after Christmas.
Fulmer hopes the late tournament start is a one-year thing, but he won’t know until the school calendar for the following year is released.
Oak Hill (Va.) and Providence Day (N.C.) won the championships in their bracket this season. Seven of the players from this year’s tournament went on to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game. Tournament alumni in the NBA include Steph Curry, James McAdoo, Thon Maker, Jodi Meeks, Josh Smith and Dennis Smith Jr.
Fulmer said he is in the process of finalizing the field for this year’s tournament and has about 90 percent of it done. He hopes to have contracts for all the teams within the next month or so.