BY WAYNE PHILLIPS, SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS
The Silver Anniversary of the Landair Ladies' Classic will be a special week for local basketball fans.
The annual holiday girls basketball event will this year be held on Dec. 27, 28, 30 and 31 at Hal Henard Gym, and it will be the 25th year that the tournament, which traditionally has brought together some of the best high school girls basketball talent from across the state and country, has been conducted at Greeneville's Hal Henard Gym.
Teams and first round pairings were announced Wednesday during a media event at the Greene County Partnership.
"It's the 25th year and we wanted it to be something special," said Ron Metcalfe, the general chairman of the Ladies' Classic. "We're still working out all the details, but we do know that we are going to honor all the Greene County ladies that have played in this tournament at some point during the past 25 years."
Metcalfe said a special night will be held for each of the five local high schools, and former players will be issued a free ticket to the game and will have a chance to be honored along with all the other players from that person's alma mater.
Tickets will be on sale soon at the Greene County Partnership. An announcement will be forthcoming within the next several days, Metcalfe said.
The tournament will again consist of 16 teams, eight from the local area and eight from out of the area, including four out-of-state teams this year representing Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Kentucky.
A new champion will be assured in 2013 since last year's champ, Murfreesboro Oakland, chose not to return to this year's event.
The out-of-state teams will include Bell County, Ky.; Seffner Christian Academy from Seffner, Fla.; Holy Name High School from Parma Heights, Ohio; and Archer High School from Lawrenceville, Ga. Holy Name High was in the tournament field last year.
Bell County's Lady Bobcats have not made an appearance in the classic since 1990. They were here for the very first tourney in 1989 and returned the following season.
Seffner from Florida made the state's final 4 last year for the second straight season. They have a college signee in Sabrina Whiting and return the second leading scorer from last year's squad in junior forward Peyton Walker, who tossed in 15.8 ppg.
Archer High's Lady Tigers were 20-10 last year competing in Georgia's largest classification.
There will be two newcomers among the area teams this year in Grainger High's Lady Grizzlies and Grace Christian of Knoxville's Lady Rams.
Grainger will be considered one of the eight "home" teams for the first round games and will be joined in that category by Cocke County, Morristown West and the five local schools -- Greeneville, South Greene, North Greene, West Greene and Chuckey-Doak.
Mid-state powers are often the highlight of the tournament, and that section of the state will be well represented with perennial powers Wilson Central, Shelbyville Central and Franklin County.
The tourney will kick off on Friday, Dec. 27, with Cocke County taking on Grace Christian in the 10 a.m. lid-lifter, and following at 11:30 will be Morristown West vs. Shelbyville.
The 1 p.m. game will have Grainger meeting Wilson Central, followed at 2:30 by local team Chuckey-Doak battling with Seffner (Fla.). The 4 p.m. contest has West Greene vs. Holy Name.
The three evening contests will feature South Greene vs. Bell County (Ky.) at 5:30, North Greene vs. Franklin County at 7 p.m., and Greeneville vs. Archer (Ga.) at 8:30.
More information will be announced soon on the special events planned for the 25th anniversary of the Ladies Classic.