New name, same basketball showcase.
The Freedom All-Star Classic has evolved into the Halifax All-Star Classic starting with this year’s ninth annual edition on April 6. The boys and girls games, pitting some of the top senior talent in the Panhandle, will again be contested at the Billy Harrison Field House on the campus of Gulf Coast State College.
The event’s name change is due to Halifax Media Group’s July purchase of The News Herald, the Northwest Florida Daily News, several North Carolina properties and weekly newspapers. Halifax Media Group will take over as a title sponsor for Freedom Communications, Inc., the former owner of those publications. The News Herald, Daily News and GCSC remain the other three title sponsors at this time.
Players from The News Herald’s coverage area of eight counties comprise the East teams. The Daily News’ sports department chooses the West teams from three bigger counties with primarily larger schools for the games, which begin with the girls at 11 a.m. followed by the boys at 1 p.m.
The East boys lead the series 5-3 with two straight victories, including last year’s 96-76 triumph. It marked the first time a team won back-to-back games on the boys side and also ended a three-year string of the West earning wins in even-numbered years.
The East girls ended a four-year losing streak with a 69-65 victory in 2012. The West leads the series 6-2, but the last three games have been decided by nine points or less. No winning team in the past three years has scored more than 70 points.
The Halifax Classic has long stood as the area’s top showcase for local talent and has provided a springboard for some players to receive scholarship offers. The East teams are highlighted by players from rural communities such as Ponce de Leon, Chipley, Port St. Joe, Wewahitchka and Blountstown and has given those athletes a larger stage to extend their final high school careers.
Player nominations are being accepted. Area coaches are asked to send player name, position, height, statistics and other pertinent information to Brad Milner at The News Herald via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (850) 747-5065. The first round of selections will be announced in the coming weeks and the complete 12-player rosters for the four teams will be released in early-March.
Anyone wishing to sponsor the event may contact Milner, News Herald Writer Jason Shoot (email@example.com; 747-5067) or Executive Sports Editor Pat McCann (firstname.lastname@example.org; 747-5068). The event accepts any and all levels of sponsorships, from monetary support to in-kind donations.