By DOUG EADS
While the Somerset Briar Jumpers will end play later today at Mercer County in the Clash of the Titans Basketball Tournament, the road for Somerset will not get any easier right after Christmas.
Coming out of the Christmas break, Jeron Dunbar’s club will be hosting the 7th annual Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops Basketball Tournament, which will be held at The Briar Patch beginning on December 27 and running through December 29th.
Their are two fields in this year’s event — both boys and girls — and there are some solid basketball teams coming into town to take part in this annual event, especially on the boy’s side of things.
Tourney organizer Doug Parkey stated earlier this week how much the local community has embraced this event and stepped up in helping to give area hoop fans three days of some pretty darn good basketball, with some outstanding teams and some great players coming into town to take part in the tournament.
“It’s hard to believe that this year is the 7th annual Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops Classic,” stated Parkey. “This year’s tournament has been scaled back somewhat with games being played solely at Somerset High School, and over three days instead of the normal four days. But, we are humbled about how the community has continued to support this tournament.”
On the boy’s side, play will begin on Thursday afternoon December 27th at 3:30 p.m. with four games, beginning with Madison Central and the state’s all-time leading shot blocker in Isaiah Cozart taking on Newport Central Catholic.
Other opening round games that day at the Briar Patch will feature Russell County taking on Cincinnati Aiken, Wayne County squaring off against Beechwood and Scotty Droud, with the nightcap featuring Somerset taking on Cumberland County.
“We have Wayne County and Cumberland County boys making return trips,” pointed out Parkey.
“Coach (Rodney) Woods does a great job at Wayne County and their fan base travels well, and they are ranked preseason number one in the 12th Region,” he added. “They have been great supporters of our tournament participating in their fourth year in a row. We also have neighboring Russell County who we have recruited for years to come over. It’s great to have them as well, along with Madison Central, who is a perennial 11th Region power year after year. They are ranked second in their region with Isaiah Cozart, a Mr.Basketball candidate and the state’s all-time leading shot blocker leading them. For the first time in our history, we have two teams from northern Kentucky with Beechwood and Newport Central Catholic, along with Cincinnati Aiken.
“Beechwood has some tremendous athletes and are coming off a Class A state football championship,” continued Parkey. “Their baseball team won the 2018 Class A state championship defeating Somerset in the state tournament. They are led by C.J. Brannen — a three-sport star — who has signed to play college baseball. Scotty Draud — a 6-foot-five sophomore — can shoot it from anywhere is also on the Beechwood team. Draud’s father — Scott Draud — still ranks as one of the leading scorers in Kentucky high school basketball history, even before the three -point line came into effect. He went on to have a great career at Vanderbilt and in the NBA.”
In the girl’s bracket, four teams will be taking part in the tourney. They are Somerset, Newport Central Catholic, Carroll County, and Cincinnati Aiken.
“On the girl’s side, we only have four teams, so they will play a round robin schedule,” stated Parkey.
“There is so much work that goes into hosting a quality tournament like the Holiday Hoops Classic,” stated Parkey. “Without the support of our local sponsors who have been with us since year one, and the work of the tournament committee — Gary Sewell, Brian Hutchinson, and Adam Sheridan — along with Somerset athletic director Bob Tucker and coach (Jeron) Dunbar and coach (Bobby) Bowling, this endeavor wouldn’t be possible.”
So, it you want to stay home and see some outstanding high school basketball players along with some great teams, right after Christmas from December 27th – December 29th, Somerset’s Briar Patch is the place to be.