The 12th Annual Chick-fil-A Classic basketball tournament opens with four games on Thursday at Richland Northeast High. The nationally recognized event runs through Monday.
The tournament features two eight-team brackets, plus a number of non-bracket games featuring seven other teams from around the country.
Keenan and Spring Valley are two Midlands team in the Classic I bracket, along with Oak Hill Academy, Arlington Country Day (FL), St. Francis (MD), Carlisle (VA), Archbishop Carroll (PA) and Wesleyan Christian (NC).
Host RNE and Lower Richland are in the Classic II bracket along with in-state Mullins and South Pointe, plus Aquinas (GA), Luella (GA), Morgan County (GA) and Blanche Ely (FL).
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Hammond, featuring Seventh Woods plays Dreher on Friday at 7 p.m. in an all-Midlands game in the five-game Challenge portion of the tournament. The Skyhawks are the only team to have two Challenge games. The other outing is against Northside Christian (NC) on Saturday at 4 p.m.
The big news is the return of national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy from Virginia, which breezed to a Classic I championship in its only other previous Chick-fil-A Classic appearance in 2011. OHA sports a lineup featuring four Division I-bound players – B.J. Stith (Virginia), Caleb Martin (NC State), Cody Martin (NC State) and Shelton Mitchell (Wake Forest).
Other Division I commitments in the field include Theo Pinson of Wesleyan Christian (North Carolina), JaQuel Richmond of Wesleyan Christian (Houston), Brandone Francis of Arlington Country Day (Florida), Dante Buford of Arlington Country Day (Oklahoma), Dwayne Morgan of St. Francis (UNLV), C.J. Turman of Morgan County (Tennessee), TeMarcus Blanton of Aquinas (South Carolina) and Marcus Stroman of Keenan (South Carolina).
Thursday’s opening schedule: Aquinas vs. Mullins, 6:30 p.m.; Lower Richland vs. Richland NE, 7 p.m.; Believe Academy (SC) vs. Gray Military (SC), 8 p.m.; Keenan vs. Spring Valley, 8:30 p.m.
Friday’s schedule: Luella vs. South Pointe, 5:30 p.m.; Carlisle vs. Archbishop Carroll, 6 p.m.; Hammond vs. Dreher, 7 p.m.; Wesleyan Christian vs. Oak Hill Academy, 7:30 p.m.; Morgan County vs. Blanche Ely, 8:30 p.m.; Arlington County Day vs. St. Francis, 9 p.m.
Ten games are on the Saturday slate and eight placement games on Monday, including the Classic II (7 p.m.) and Classic I (8:30 p.m.) championship games.