Over the past four decades, the Jeff Lisath Bannon Park Classic has featured some of the brightest basketball talents around Scioto County, the Tri-State Area, and the State of Ohio in general.
Need proof? Basketball standouts such as Craig Tubbs, Corey Allison, and heck, even former Ohio State one-and-done standout and 2009 NBA Draft first round draft choice Byron Mullins, have all taken part in the Bannon Park Classic at one time or another.
So it only stands to reason that the dedicated event would be back for yet another go in 2018.
From Thursday through Sunday, the Bannon Park Classic, in its 40th consecutive version, will be back with its normal five-on-five, full-court experience and will showcase five different divisions that will feature individuals from fifth grade on up through adulthood — which combines the hopefulness of the youth in attendance with the experience and know-how of the adult players.
For Bannon Park Classic Event Coordinator Gerald Gordon, the classic is truly one of the best collections of talent that one can hope to find around the Tri-State Area.
“The talent that comes out to the Bannon Park Classic year-in and year-out is top-notch,” Gordon said. “So this year, we’ve expanded it out a little more than usual. We have elementary and middle school kids from the fifth through eighth grades participating, so we’ve got more teams this year that consist of the youth in an effort to grow their appreciation and love for the game of basketball.”
The Jeff Lisath Bannon Park Classic, which started in 1979 as a 3-on-3 tournament on the strength of Lisath among others, is an area-renown tournament that routinely attracts top-area talent from the Tri-State Area boundaries to Dayton, Columbus, and even Cleveland, among additional cities.
“This is Jeff’s baby,” Gordon said. “For the foreseeable future, it’s always going to be his event. Basically, he gave us all the tools to implement it, so we’re just doing the legwork and trying to carry on what he did in bringing this event here.”
In addition to the talent that the Bannon Park Classic attracts, the format of the classic is such that it draws great talent, as the BPC plays to 22 points — or 15 minutes, whichever comes first — before taking a halftime break, then resuming play for a second half until a unit reaches 44 points — or if the final 15 minutes of action concludes first. Vendors and music will also be available at the event.
That format, which is similar to, but doesn’t exactly follow the BIG 3 League that hip hop, rap mogul, and movie star Ice Cube founded last season, will be in place throughout the classic.
“It should be a really fun edition,” Gordon said of the classic. “We have vendors, music, and a little bit of everything for everybody.”
Each of the divisions — fifth and sixth grades, seventh and eighth grades, high school, adults, and the O.G. League, the latter of which consists of basketball players that are of 35 years of age or older — will play in a format that consists of 5-on-5 double-elimination tournaments.
And what’s even better? If weather disrupts the primary location of the event off of 14th Street and Robinson Avenue, the staff involved with the Bannon Park Classic has a backup plan already in place in the Old PHS Gym, which is, like the basketball court at 14th and Robinson, a very popular gym among local basketball aficionados.
“We expect a big turnout, weather permitting,” Gordon said. “And even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll move games to the old PHS gym, so we have all of the logistics covered as far as the event is concerned.”
If nothing else, however, the individuals that will be playing basketball from Thursday through Sunday will be shining a clear light for those hopefuls that could very well be playing at Bannon Park, and possibly beyond, in the future.
“Growing up as a youth, I saw how cool it was to see different basketball players from all over come in for an event that is in such a small town as Portsmouth, and make it a highlight of a weekend where you can see dazzling dunks and great passes. It’s just good basketball all around, and you get to see people that you didn’t get to watch or see when they were in high school. It’s just a full, eventful weekend.”
And there’s always a place for an event like that in Scioto County and the Portsmouth area.
“We want to have something positive to shed a light on our area, so we can be known for that alongside the additional positive events that go on in the community,” Gordon said. “We’ve got some good things that are happening, as well.”
According to the Bannon Park Classic Facebook page, individuals that are passing to the fifth and sixth grades will kick things off on Thursday morning, while individuals that are passing to the seventh and eighth grades will start Friday morning. The high school-aged competitors will play under the lights on Friday evening before each of those three divisions begin championship play on Saturday morning.
The adult divisions then cap off play by starting their respective tournaments on Saturday afternoon before ending it with the championship rounds on Sunday afternoon.
Winners will receive t-shirts and trophies or medals in the lower divisions, while the winner of the adult division will collect a winner-take-all cash prize of $1,500.
For more details, email Jeff Lisath at email@example.com.