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Teams and coaches excited to tip off WYMT Food City Mountain Basketball Classic despite delays

Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 6:57 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - It may have started a day late but the WYMT Food City Mountain Basketball Classic tipped off at Perry County High School Tuesday.

“I think it’s the best the mountains have to offer,” said Wolfe County Head Coach Robert Creech.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many did not think the 34-year tradition would be able to continue.

“Our number one goal was to have the tournament. It’s the premiere tournament in East Kentucky and I think we all felt a responsibility to keep it going and to do what we had to do to get it in,” said Creech. “Kids growing up they see this on TV and they see it in the papers and stuff and they want to be a part of it.”

Coaches say no matter the changes, they are just happy to be playing in the tournament.

“You have to adjust on the fly and just like we haven’t been able to practice you gotta take it in stride and go on and hope for the best,” said Buckhorn Head Coach Corey Hoskins. “We’ve not played a lot in it, so every time we get the chance to play in it it’s a opportunity for us to kind of come out here and prove to these other schools and to the mountain people smalls schools can play too.”

Knowing one COVID-19 case could knock them out of the tournament, coaches say each game means even more.

“It can happen to anybody at any time. It’s something we can’t control and we gotta play for today and hope that nobody else comes down with it,” said Hoskins.

Wolfe County mother Beth Thompson was worried her son would not get the chance to play in the tournament.

“We stay worried with COVID happening, but I’m really happy because I know the boys are all so happy. They just love the sport and anytime they can get the opportunity to come out and play they are happy out that,” she said. “It gets a lot of coverage and media attention, so I know that it’s exciting for the athletes.”

Buckhorn teacher Jalen Cooper says this tournament means a lot to the athletes.

“Mountain Classic is sort of like a mini sweet 16 in a way I feel like so it’s a big deal,” said Cooper. “I’m just thankful these kids get a chance to play and we get the chance to watch them.”

This year, tickets will not be sold at the door. Only 200 fans are allowed at each game. 100 tickets are sold for each team playing. No passes to the game are available.

The brackets to the games are changing constantly. The Owsley County girls basketball team dropped out Tuesday morning due to being quarantined.

If you are not one of the 200 people allowed at the games, you can still watch all the action on our second channel H&I, wymt.com and multiple streaming platforms.

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