By Dave Morrison
BECKLEY – The Scott Brown Little General Classic has taken on many forms in its 31-year history.
This year will be no different for the tournament, which has evolved into one of the state’s premier all-star events.
From the very first all-star game in 1990, a 119-118 win for the Class AA-A stars over their AAA counterparts, to the tournaments namesake going to Rand to pick up Randy Moss so the star could play in the 1994 game to future Mountaineer stars Jevon Carter and Dax Miles Jr. meeting in Beckley to last year’s dual-site games (Morgantown and Beckley) for the first time the tournament has a proud history.
This year the coronavirus pandemic forced the tournament to move from its normal early April date to July 18.
That alone is different.
But it’s due to tournament director Bob Bolen’s steadfast belief in the game. Bolen is the former coach at Mountain State University, which he led to the 2004 NAIA national championship and is the state’s al-time winningest coach at one school He said this year’s game again will offer a different format.
There will be three high school games with rising players prior to the all-star game. This year’s senior stars will play in the main game at 7 p.m.
Shady Spring will face Woodrow Wilson in the Jan-Care Showcase game at 5 p.m.
“It just turned out that because of (the postponement of the game from it’s original April play date) we were able to play the game at the same time that schools will be in their three-week summer practice period,” Bolen said. “It gives these teams a chance to play at the armory and it should be an great afternoon of basketball for area fans.”
Greater Beckley and Wyoming East both will have young teams.
Greater Beckley lost four of five starters from last year’s team that qualified for the state tournament and was considered a favorite before the pandemic shut down the tournament before it started.
Wyoming East saw several defections midway through the season that allowed several young players to get on the court before expected.
The last time either Westside or Independence played they battled for the sectional championship. Westside won that game 74-59. Both teams return a plethora of talent from that game.
Westside had been slated to host Shady Spring and Independence travel to Bluefield for co-regionals when the season was scheduled.
Woodrow Wilson and Shady Spring battled for the first time in years last winter and, for the first time, Shady Spring beat the Flying Eagles.
The Tigers will be lead by rising sophomores Braden and Cole Chapman, both of whom had outstanding freshmen seasons last season. Woodrow will be lead by on of the sate’s top returning big men in double-double machine Ben Gilliam.
Bolen said that he has seen a majority of the players who will play in the 7 p.m all-star game.
“I did over 40 high school games (as an analyst with rising high school broadcast titan Video Productions) this year and I was able to see a lot of the players,” Bolen said. “That was a big help putting together these rosters.”
He said players were excited to play in the game.
“I think the triple-A guys heard so much about the double-A teams, how it was the best class in the state last year, that they feel like they have something to prove.”
It will be the first time since the 2012 game that the Class AAA vs. Class AA-A will be the marque game of the tournament. In the past seven years their had been a national game. Several Marshall and WVU signees had played in the game along with state Division I or college signees. Hence the meeting for the first time between Carter and Miles Jr. Bolen said many of the national players will already be on campus when the game date roles around.
“It’s just a one-year thing, we will go back to that format next season,” Bolen said. “For now we are excited about these games.
Of course the game’s namesake is what keeps Bolen and tournament co-director Sam Hall, going. Both were friends of Scott Brown, a former Register-Herald sportswriter, who passed away Dec. 2, 1996. He and Bolen had started the game back in 1990.
It’s those stories that come from the game, and keep Brown’s memory alive, that inspire Bolen, who grew up with the late scribe.
“Last year Dave Retton (Fairmont coach who was a coach at the game in Morgantown) called me and started asking me questions about Scott,” Bolen said “The next day I was getting things set up (in Morgantown) and he called his team around and started telling them all about Scott and the history of the game. I thought it was great that a group of guys that weren’t even alive when Scott was here got to learn about him and what this game was all about.”
Two years ago Brown’s mom, who lost a son all those years ago, was in line waiting to get into the game with Bluefield coach Tony Webster, who had lost his son just a few months before and they struck up a conversation.
“Every year there are great stories like that and that is one of the great things about the game for me,” Bolen said. “And there will be more stories this year.”
Scott Brown-Little General Stores All-Star rosters (and their college choice if known) are listed below. Ticket information will be released as the game gets closer.
Scott Brown Memorial Classic
Beckley/Raleigh County Convention Center
1 p.m. – Greater Beckley v. Wyoming East
3 p.m. – Independence v. Westside
5 p.m. – Woodrow Wilson v. Shady Spring
7 p.m. Scott Brown Memorial Classic game
EMPLOYEES’ INNOVATIVE NETWORK AAA All-STARS
Player School Ht. College
Kaden Matheny University 5-10 Bowling Green
Alex Vargo Wheeling Park 6-5 Youngstown State
K.J. McClurg University 6-3 New Hampshire
Malaki Sylvia Parkersburg South 6-5 Marietta
C.J. Meredith Spring Valley 6-6 Marshall
Rodney Toler St. Albans 5-7
Sam Potts Parkersburg 6-0
Richard Law Woodrow Wilson 6-0
Austin Dearing Hurricane 6-0
Ty Johnson Ripley 6-7
Gus Eddy George Washington 5-9
Karrington Hill Capital 6-2
MID-STATE AUTOMOTIVE AA-A ALL-STARS
Player School Ht. College
Obinna Anochili-Killen Chapmanville 6-9 Marshall
David Early Logan 6-4 Marshall
Tommy Williams Shady Spring 6-3 Glenville State
Braeden Crews Bluefield 5-10 Bluefield State
Luke LeRose Shady Spring 6-1 Glenville State
Nick Stalnaker Bridgeport 6-4
Jayden Stewart Braxton County 6-0
Andrew Shull Chapmanville 6-0 Rio Grande
Elijah Edwards Greater Beckley 6-0
Isaiah Hairston Greater Beckley 6-4
Phillip Mullins Chapmanville 6-3 WVU Tech
Thaddeus Jordan Greater Beckley 6-5