Bigger Brogden presents opportunities, challenges


New Hanover's Parese Williams passes while driving the lane against Clayton at Brogden Hall in Wilmington, North Carolina Tuesday, November 27, 2012. (Photo by Star News photo by Matt Born)


The Leon Brogden Holiday Invitational, Wilmington's biggest high school basketball tournament, begins Thursday at UNCW. The 2012 tournament will be co-ed in for the first time in almost two decades and will involve twice as many teams.

But trying to play 24 games in three days leads to some acrobatic scheduling, and the lineup for the event's second and third days is still up in the air.

The Brogden tournament went co-ed in 2012 after the area's long-running girls holiday basketball tournament lost its most-recent title sponsor, Time Warner Cable, and wasn't able to continue financially.

The result is a massive, three-day, 16-team event with games split between Trask Coliseum and adjacent Hanover Hall.

Brogden organizer Tony Stroud said ticket sales have steadily increased each year, topping $18,000 in 2011, and that the larger tournament should allow for more tickets and more sponsors.

Local coaches are also looking forward to a three-day crash course in basketball against good competition.

"Our approach is this is the same kind of format as a conference tournament and state tournament," New Hanover coach Kirk Angel said. "To win games and move on."

Local girls teams are looking forward to the chance to play at a bigger facility. Past tournaments have been at the city's high school gymnasiums.

"I think it's going to work out well," Laney girls coach Sherri Tynes said. "The girls are looking forward to playing at the college and that's something new for us."

But it's unclear if all the teams will get to play in Trask Coliseum. The games are currently split between Trask and Hanover Hall, the renovated volleyball facility which seats only 600. Trask Coliseum seats 6,100.

Currently, the Hoggard and New Hanover boys and girls teams are scheduled to play in Trask Coliseum the first day, with Laney and Ashley teams in Hanover Hall. Stroud said the schedule and location will rotate each year between schools in the future.

The tentative schedule has winners on the first day playing in Trask the second day. But Stroud said that if a game scheduled for Hanover is expected to be highly attended, the tournament could move that game into Trask, bumping another game out.

"We know it's a risk," Stroud said. "And we don't want you to come from out of town and not have a chance to play in Trask."

That's the new balancing act for the Brogden: the tournament attracts out-of-town teams with the lure of playing in a college gym, but there are simply too many games to play them all at UNCW's home court.

The flexible schedule has some visiting coaches uneasy. Ashbrook boys head coach Chad Duncan said his team has been looking forward playing for a year.

"It's been something that we've been highlighting on our schedule ever since I told the guys about it last year," Duncan said.

He should know, he's a former coach at Ashley High School locally. His Screaming Eagles teams never played at Trask; the Brogden moved there after he left. Now, he might not get to be in Trask this time, either.

"When they first sent out the first bracket, we've got to win to play in Trask," Duncan said. "Then they've got a second one that had no places or times, and now I'm like, ‘Well guys, I have no idea.'"

Brogden organizers also must remain equitable for the boys and girls. New Hanover County Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Holliday said the boys and girls tournaments should have been merged sooner.

"It's hard to say you're having the same experience if the boys are participating at a tournament at a Division I facility and the girls are at a high school gym," Holliday said.

Holliday also said the district's Title IX compliance review made the district ultra-sensitive to maintaining equity. Any changes in the tournament schedule or location could throw that out of whack quickly.

"We've got to be real careful that we're not putting our girls in a situation where they're not as desirable," Holliday said. "We also have to be careful and one of the things we talk about with the athletic directors often and that they're being visible about is we can't leave compliance decisions to our coaches."



Thursday's opening-day schedule for the Leon Brogden Holiday Invitiational at UNCW's Trask Coliseum and Hanover Hall. For a full schedule of the Brodgen, as well as other tournaments across the area this week, see the Scoreboard on page 2C.

Boys

Laney vs. Hoke County, 2:30 p.m. (HH)

New Hanover vs. North Myrtle Beach, 4:30 p.m. (TC)

Ashley vs. Ashbrook, 5:30 p.m. (HH)

Hoggard vs. Frederick Douglass (NY), 7:30 p.m. (HH)

Girls

New Hanover vs. Havelock, 3 p.m. (TC)

Laney vs. Conway (S.C.) 4 p.m. (HH)

Hoggard vs. Ravenscroft, 6 p.m. (TC)

Ashley vs. Socastee (S.C.), 7 p.m. (HH)