Daniel Boone High School is tournament central for the next couple of weeks.
The sixth annual Next Level Trailblazer Classic, a tournament which features 16 middle school boys’ and 16 middle school girls’ teams as well as a pair of high school varsity boys’ games, has been going on since Monday.
Next week is the Johnson City Honda Invitational, a get-together for 16 varsity and nine junior varsity girls teams.
As one might imagine, it’s no easy task to host these back-to-back tournaments over the holidays.
“There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on,” Daniel Boone athletic director Danny Good said. “You start working on next year right now, getting teams confirmed to come back next year. When it gets closer to that time, you get with all the ticket-takers, security, clean-up and all the things you have to do to host 65 teams.
“You’re looking at 750 kids, plus parents and all over a two-week holiday. It’s a lot to take on, but our kids get to sleep in their own beds instead of traveling like a lot of teams do. We feel fortunate because Gray is such a great location and easy access for the surrounding school systems to come and play.”
The middle school tournament started with eight teams and the purpose of getting the Boone feeder programs more exposure. It’s since grown to 16 and now 32 teams with a waiting list to get in. Trailblazers coach Ryan Arnold explained Boone could have hosted a pair of 20-team tournaments this week if not for the logistical problems.
Tonight’s action also includes a pair of high school varsity games with Volunteer taking on Happy Valley, followed by Daniel Boone hosting Unaka.
“I think we will have competitive games,” Arnold said. “We’re really focused on the middle school aspect of this tournament, but we take pride in playing in it. We’ve only lost one game in it since we’ve been playing in this.”
On Saturday, Unaka will open with Volunteer and Boone plays Happy Valley. The last time Happy Valley visited Bobby Snyder Gymnasium, the Warriors beat the Trailblazers for legendary coach Charlie Bayless’ final victory.