Loaded field for Twisters tournament

By Wes Holtsclaw

   For the third year in a row, the Twisters Hoops Classic returns to Elizabethton, fielding some top talent and a weekend of youth basketball action.
   Sponsored by the Grindstaff Automotive Group, the tournament tips off on today, with 45 teams from four states competing in eight different brackets in boys (13, 14, 16 and under) and girls divisions (11, 12, 13, 14, 16 and under).
   "We are extremely pleased to have a full field in our tournament," said David Bush, one of the event's organizers. "Last year, we had 33 teams from three states and this year we have 45 teams from four states.
   "We had to turn down some local teams and several outside the area. It should be a fun event."
   "Twisters" is a non-profit athletic association designed to promote the girls basketball programs here in Elizabethton.
   All proceeds from the event will benefit the girls basketball programs in Elizabethton from the high school level to elementary and youth programs.
   Among the teams participating in addition to local Tri-Cities area squads include teams from Wise, Scott County, Jonesville and Blacksburg, Virginia; Avery County and Asheville, North Carolina; Knott County, Kentucky; Rogersville, Chuckey-Doak, Morristown, Rutledge, Claiborne County, Pigeon Forge and Knoxville, Tennessee.
   The Lady Aces from Asheville will be competing in the 16-and-under category, although they qualify for the 15-and-under group. They have some legit Division 1 college prospects and will be one of many tough teams in the event.
   "It's a real strong, quality field," Bush said. "I understand that the Western North Carolina Lady Aces from Asheville are a nationally recognized AAU team. Many of these teams are using our tournament as a tune-up for the upcoming State and Regional AAU Tournaments which start the first weekend in April.
   "Our tournament represents an excellent opportunity for the local basketball fans to take in some good action while supporting the Elizabethton girls program."
   Last year, a majority of the funds raised were used to send the junior high and high school girls teams to summer team camps, as well as elementary and junior high squads in the local summer league.
   Said Bush: "We would like to think that our organization helps to contribute to the success of the girls basketball program. The girls basketball program in Elizabethton is on the rise with the high school team making it to sub state this year.
   "The junior varsity girls team being near the top of the conference and the eighth grade girls team making it to the state sectional finals for the first time in school history and the seventh grade team being undefeated.
   "Playing top notch competition helps elevate our teams' level of play, and this tournament certainly has the quality teams in all divisions."
   The tournament will not only benefit the basketball programs within the city, but also the city itself as several teams will be staying overnight.
   Tournament events will be hosted in four gyms this year: Elizabethton High, T.A. Dugger, Harold McCormick and the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation facilities.
   Spectator tournament passes for the entire three-day tournament are only $5 and are good at all four sites.
   "Anybody who likes basketball will get their money's worth," said Bush. "For five dollars, they can buy a pass and see all the games they would want to."
   Everyone is encouraged to come out to the games from March 28-30. There will be plenty of good concession food and T-shirts to accommodate those who might want them.
   The girls basketball program in Elizabethton will receive a big boost with the support of the tournament participants and attendees.
   "We sincerely appreciate Steve Grindstaff and the fine folks at Grindstaff Automotive Group helping us with financial support of this tournament," Bush said.
   "We greatly appreciate the help and support of the Elizabethon City Schools administration, Elizabethton Parks and Recreation department, staff and school coaches in allowing us the use of their facilities for this tournament," he said.
   "The tournament is ran entirely by volunteers with the exception of game officials," he said. "We use qualified officials which is an important consideration for the teams that travel here for our tournament."
   Games begin Friday 28th at 6 p.m. with contests at T.A. Dugger and Harold McCormick. Championship games will take place on Saturday and Sunday at each location.