This year’s Index-Journal Emerald City Classic gives Lakelands fans exactly what they want to see.
And that is this: Lakelands high school basketball players.
Nothing but Lakelands high school basketball players.
And, it’s about time.
If a tournament of this size wants to fill the most seats, give the area’s fans a great reason to attend.
No matter which team —  Greenwood, Emerald, Abbeville, Saluda, Dixie, Ninety Six, Ware Shoals and Calhoun Falls — wins this year’s tournament, there will be a local interest. By George, I think the coordinators of this year’s tournament have got it.
There’s nothing wrong, mind you, with bringing teams in from outside the area when it’s the right tournament. I’ve always thought, though, those kinds of tournaments featuring out-of-area teams did best in “showcase” tournaments such as the boys and girls tournaments at Myrtle Beach (Greenwood’s girls, for instance, played in a prestigious tournament there last week).
In this situation, this format for the Index-Journal Emerald City Classic is what works.
And, it will work.
“We’re excited about having nothing but Lakelands teams,” said Tim McMahon, who is not only Emerald’s athletic director but also director of this tournament. “This is what we were hoping it would be, so we’re glad to be able to help make it happen.”
McMahon is not the only one happy about the format.
“I think this will be great,” Emerald boys basketball coach Mark Sorrow said. “The crowds will be here just to see Lakelands teams. And that will also mean we will have a bigger crowd than in the past.”
That’s the point.
For an admission price of $5 per day, fans can see not only what the Lakelands has to offer in boys basketball for now, but also get a glimpse at which teams can make a run at region – or perhaps state – come February and March.
Greenwood and Emerald have potential this year. So do Saluda, Calhoun Falls and Ninety Six. And, although Abbeville – winners of the past three boys titles in the Index-Journal Emerald City Classic – is young, as is Dixie and Ware Shoals, anything can happen in a tournament.
And whatever happens, someone from the Lakelands will be celebrating and tournament’s end.
True, there is not a girls bracket for this year’s tournament. But who knows? Maybe next year.
At least, for this year, this is a start in the right direction.
Chancey is sports editor at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 223-1813; e-mail or follow him on Twitter @IJSCOTTCHANCEY . Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.