Lady Knights invited to NIKE tourney

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By Jessica Veatch and Josh Veatch

The Marion County Lady Knights basketball team is scheduled to travel to Phoenix, Ariz., Dec. 18-22 to participate in the NIKE Tournament of Champions.
The Marion County Board of Education approved the tournament request during its monthly meeting last week.
To attend this event, the members of the Lady Knights basketball team will have to raise their own money, and no money from the high school will be used to fund this trip.
“We will raise around $15,000 towards this tournament,” Head Coach Trent Milby said.
Milby also commented that some money has been saved into a travel fund that will go toward this trip. Fundraisers will be the main method of raising the remaining amount needed for the trip.
According to the Tournament of Champions website, this event has been regarded as the most competitive and prestigious high school basketball event in North America and the world for more than a decade.  The NIKE Tournament of Champions has showcased 110 State Champions since 1997, the inaugural year, and 11 of the past 14 USA Today National Champions. The Tournament of Champions has also been called the nation’s premier prep basketball tournament, and hosts several collegiate coaches while being considered a “national championship” for high school basketball.
The Lady Knights were invited to play in this tournament due in large part to some national exposure of key players on the summer circuit with the Kentucky Premier team.
“Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, Makayla Epps, and Bre Elder are well known throughout the United States, and people know that all three play on the same high school team,” Milby said. “I have been talked to for a couple of years now, and I felt like this upcoming year was the best year to go out there.”
So far, Marion County is one of the 17 teams listed to compete in the NIKE Tournament of Champions, but the tournament is conducted in two sessions to accommodate more than 150 teams annually. Since its inception, the Tournament of Champions has hosted more than 18000 student athletes from 41 states and Canada.  Publications such as USA Today  and ESPN have described the event as “staggering” and “unparalleled”. Brackets for the 2011 Tournament of Champions will be posted online on Dec. 2. Check back as the tournament nears for more details on this top tier national tournament.