A bevy of high school basketball is on tap at Marietta College next week when the Ohio River Classic returns following a one-year hiatus.
Fenton Court is the site for 11 games over a two-day period beginning Friday, Dec. 28.
For the first time since the event began in 2008, a conflict in dates prevented Francis Tullius and his tournament committee from conducting the basketball showcase last year.
"We try to get a mixture of local teams who fans want to see and bring in some teams from out of the area they don't get a chance to watch," Tullius said.
In the past, the entire schedule consisted of seven games. This year, the event has maxed out at 11 games - three on Friday beginning at 6 p.m. followed by eight on Saturday, with the first tip-off set for 9 a.m.
Boys basketball will rule Friday's action with Alexander vs. Huntington St. Joseph (6 p.m.); St. Clairsville vs. Columbus-based Upper Arlington (7:45 p.m.); and Belpre vs. River Valley from Bidwell, Ohio (9:15 p.m.)
Three girls games kick off the action on Saturday with Alexander vs. Williamstown (9 a.m.); Fort Frye vs. Eastern (10:45 a.m.) and Warren vs. Parkersburg South (12:30 p.m.)
Rounding out the final day are Eastern vs. Cleveland-based Martin Luther King Jr. (2:15 p.m); Warren vs. Upper Arlington (4 p.m.); Harrison Central from Cadiz, Ohio vs. Federal Hocking (5:45 p.m.); Parkersburg South vs. Fort Frye (7:30 p.m.); and River vs. Athens (9:15 p.m.).
Pre-sale tickets can be purchased at participating schools. Tickets at the door for Friday are $5 for adults and $3 for students. Tickets at the door for Saturday are $7 for adults and $5 for students.
"We didn't think this event would become this big," Tullius said. "Marietta College has been more than helpful."
* On to bigger and better things: Ege Ozcan returned to the Mid-Ohio Valley for a few days this week to re-connect with former classmates from Parkersburg South.
The 18-year-old from Turkey spent the 2011-12 school year attending South as part of the American Field Service program. Currently, he is attending Andrews Osborne Academy (Willoughby, Ohio) and is a member of the varsity boys basketball team. At the holiday break, the team is 7-0 with Ozcan turning in a double-double in all seven games.
Ten days ago in a 103-73 win against Saint John School, the 6-foot-7 Ozcan finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 10 steals.
"Ege wants to play college basketball in the United States," said Karen Kibble, who served as Ozcan's host in Parkersburg.
Ozcan also plays basketball for a team representing the SPIRE Institute (Geneva, Ohio), which is one of the largest indoor, multi-sport, training and competition complexes in the world.
"It's a state-of-the-art facility for just about any sport you can think of," Kibble added.
While living in Parkersburg, Ozcan had the opportunity to attend several WVU men's basketball games and established a connection with the Mountaineers' Deniz Kilicli, who also is a native of Turkey.
"They are Facebook friends," Kibble said. "They even went to the same beach this past summer."
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org