Dayton teams enjoy playing in Danville

January 04, 2004|JILL ERWIN

They may have traveled further than anyone else playing in the Stuart Powell City of Firsts Basketball Classic at Danville, but coaches and players from both Dayton, Ohio, teams said they wouldn't mind making the trip again.

Stivers and Chaminade Julienne, schools that sit just a few blocks from each other in Dayton, both sent teams to the inaugural City of Firsts for games Friday and Saturday. Neither had been to Danville before, and it took a string of family and friends to get them here.

Danville coach Craig Pippen scheduled Stivers because his wife's uncle, John Murphy, was the coach there. Murphy then called Chaminade coach Joe Staley to see if he'd be interested in being part of the field.

Chaminade has been a perennial participant in the Ohio state playoffs, and Pippen said that was one intriguing thing about the team.


"We want strong teams to play in this event," Pippen said. "The better the teams are you bring in, the more it helps everyone involved. At the high school level, strong teams only enhance the event."

Staley said he always looks for opportunities for his team to travel, and jumped at the chance.

"It's an opportunity for the kids to get away from everybody and really emphasize the team, kind of pull together a little bit," Staley said. "We look for the opportunity to get away and play a good team."

Staley said he had heard of Danville, and that put him one step ahead of Carlos Roberts, who took over Stivers when Murphy left before the season.

"When I got the job this year, I got the schedule and they told me 'You're going to Danville, Kentucky,'" Roberts said. "My question was, 'Where in the (heck) is Danville, Kentucky?'

"It was a long ride. It's supposed to be two and a half hours, but we got lost like 12 times and it took us like three and a half hours."

Once they got here, the Stivers players were impressed by the setup of the tournament. Quincy Heflin, who was named player of the game in Stivers' win Friday against Casey County, said he would love to come back next year when he's a senior.

"I think it's a nice tournament," Heflin said. "We have our own locker rooms, they feed us ... that's what basketball players look for. It's a nice gym and it's set up real nice."

Chaminade senior Justin Smith said he also had a good time on Friday, despite his team's loss to Elizabethtown.

"It's always good to get away from your hometown and take your show on the road," Smith said. "This is a great opportunity to show people what we have, but it doesn't mean anything if you don't win."

But the coaches and players were enthusiastic with their praise when asked if they'd be interested in coming back down for a future appearance.

"Coach Pippen's doing a great job with this," Staley said. "We've traveled to a lot of tournaments over the years, and this has been run in a first-class way. It's been very good and we'd definitely come back."

"It's a class tourney," Roberts said. "This is something that once people start hearing about it, a lot of other people will try to get here, I think."

Smith, a senior, said he thinks his younger teammates would welcome the chance to return.

"I think they'd be very interested," Smith said. "I think the guys would love the opportunity to come down here, play in front of new people and show them what we have to showcase in the Dayton area. Ohio basketball and Kentucky basketball, it doesn't get any better than that."

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