CENTERVILLE — Fort Loramie’s players will go from the seats at Trent Arena in Kettering to the court in January.
Fort Loramie is one of four area schools that will play in the Flyin’ to the Hoop invitational tournament in January at Fairmont High School’s 4,440-seat arena. The schedule was announced on Tuesday at Miami Valley Hospital South in Centerville.
Sidney and Versailles will play each other on Jan. 14, while Minster will play Franklin-Monroe and Fort Loramie will play Thurgood Marshall on Jan. 15.
There will be 38 teams in the tournament, which is held annually on Martin Luther King Day weekend and typically draws over 20,000 fans. Tournament director Eric Horstman invites teams in Ohio and throughout the nation with top-rated collegiate prospects to participate. Since the tournament started in 2003, 31 players have participated in the tournament and went on to be first-round NBA draft picks.
“It’s just an honor for us to be in Flyin’ to the Hoop,” Fort Loramie assistant athletic director Tom Wisener said. “I’ve gone to it for many years, and playing a team like Thurgood Marshall, which has been a powerhouse in the Dayton-area for years, is a tremendous experience and a good test.”
Flyin’ to the Hoop serves as a convention of sorts for high school basketball in southwest Ohio each year, particularly during Sunday and Monday when few teams outside those in the tournament are playing. Fort Loramie coach Corey Britton said in a statement that it’s a big deal for the program.
“A lot of our kids go down each year and watch several games, and this year our players will go down and be part of the event, so our kids are extremely excited,” Britton said. “Getting invited to Flyin’ to the Hoop is great for our school, community and our program.”
Fort Loramie has all but one returning starter back from last year’s team, which finished with a 21-6 record and won a district title. Among the returning starters are Dillon Braun and Evan Berning, who were both all-Shelby County Athletic League selections.
“We’ve got some seniors who have played three or four years on varsity, and this is both a showcase and a reward for their hard work over the years,” Wisener said. “We’re hoping to have a great season, and this could be one of the big parts of it.”
Thurgood Marshall has participated in the tournament several times and has been one of the top programs in the Dayton City League the last several years along with Dunbar. The Cougars finished 4-19 last year under first-year coach Shawn McCullough, who played one season at Ohio State in the mid-90’s and finished his collegiate career at San Jose State.
Among top college prospects in this season’s tournament are Versailles’ Justin Ahrens and Sidney’s Andre Gordon. Ahrens verbally committed to Ohio State in September, while Gordon holds offers from several Mid-American Conference colleges. Horstman said the prospect of pitting the two nearby schools against each other was too good pass up.
It will be the first appearance for Fort Loramie and Minster in the tournament. Sidney played in last season’s tournament, and Versailles has played in the event twice in the last four years.
Tickets can be purchased online at flyintothehoop.com.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.