Coaches having trouble filling Classic brackets

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 19, 2003

[6/19/03]New tournaments at other schools have coaches at Vicksburg and Warren Central scrambling to fill the field for the annual Coca-Cola Classic, coaches said Wednesday.

The field of teams, which usually is composed of eight boys and eight girls teams, has only five as of now.

With state rules dictating that teams can participate in only three tournaments per season, the list of candidates to fill the remaining spots grows thin as many schools fill out their schedules.

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Each year, the Classic begins in the middle of November usually one week after the Warren Central-Vicksburg football game and the local teams have until the beginning of November to schedule the games.

“We’re still scrambling to find some teams,” WC girls coach Donny Fuller said. “Some teams decided not to come back, but we’ll replace them.”

So far this year’s field consists of Provine, Port Gibson and Jefferson County in addition to Vicksburg and WC. Dropping out from last year are McComb, Ridgeland and Cleveland.

The biggest reason for teams not renewing their commitments is the emergence of new tournaments each season, Fuller said.

For example, McComb turned down the Classic this year because it committed to play in nearby South Pike’s tournament. Ridgeland also started up a tournament of its own this season.

Vicksburg Warren athletic director Lum Wright, Jr., said despite the difficulty in finding opponents, there’s no chance of the Classic being canceled.

“Hopefully some teams will come,” he said. “If not, we’ll figure out a round-robin setup or something.”

Fuller said this sort of thing has happened in previous years, and he’s not worried.

“If you get a choice between going to (a tournament) five miles away and one that’s 30 miles, of course you’re going to take the five miles,” Fuller said. “It’s not a big deal. We’ve been here before. We’ll find somebody.”

The Classic has gone on with fewer than eight teams before. Last season, when McComb’s boys team dropped out, the tourney amended its structure and continued by simply giving Jefferson County a bye in the first round.

If it comes down to it, Fuller said changes can be made again.

“We’ll just have to adjust it,” he said. “We had one year where we had seven teams play. We made it work.”