By Matt Mauney | Associate Editor
Not many people will argue that every high school sport takes a back seat to football in Plant City.
But area high school basketball coaches are looking to change that perception.
Plant City High School recently hosted the Raider Preseason Classic, a boys preseason tournament that celebrated its fifth year last week. The tournament is just one example and one effort in the movement to expand exposure and popularity of the sport in this area.
“The whole idea of the tournament is getting two Plant City schools in with two schools from Polk County,” Plant City head coach Dale Chambers said.
This year, Durant rounded out local teams, while Tampa’s King and Robinson also participated. Chambers said he would like to see the tournament build a relationship with teams in nearby Polk County.
“Ideally, that’s what we want, with Plant City playing some of the better teams out of Polk County,” he said. “It’s a nice draw, because they’re not too far from us.”
Entering his sixth year as coach of the Raiders, Chambers hopes to have the Raider Classic become a prestigious preseason tournament.
“We want to promote Plant City basketball and make this tournament something that teams want to be a part of in the preseason,” he said.
Durant has participated in the tournament for three years, and head coach Trent Tice hopes it will continue to grow and help showcase local talent.
“Coach Chambers does a great job with this tournament, and it’s a great way to promote basketball in Plant City,” Tice said.
The tournament also gives the two rival schools the opportunity to play one another before the annual regular-season meeting for the Ron Frost Trophy. Durant and Plant City used to be in the same region, in which they played each other at least twice a year, but after a reclassification by the Florida High School Athletic Association, the two teams represent different classes.
Although Durant and Plant City did not match up in last year’s tournament, this year, the two teams met. Durant took a 57-44 win.
Chambers said in addition to exposure for his team and others, the tournament also helps from a basketball standpoint.
“We’re doing it to try to get better,” he said. “If we can bring in some schools that have a different style of play, that helps us.”
Chambers said in Hillsborough County, teams can’t control their schedule, so playing against unfamiliar opponents in a preseason tournament will help them prepare against familiar foes.
Tice noted the game of basketball has a rich history in the area, dating back many years. Plant City won a state championship back in 1981.
“The Plant City area knows high school basketball, and I think if you come and watch our games (Durant-Plant City), those are some of the most exciting games, and the stands are full,” Tice said. “It’s a great thing to be a part of, and I suggest people come and check it out.”
Durant will open the regular season after Thanksgiving against Riverview on Nov. 27, while Plant City will host King.
Durant will host Plant City for the Ron Frost Trophy Jan. 23.
Contact Matt Mauney at email@example.com..” >http://malaskagolf.com/dengi-do-zarplati-na-kartu.php