Flyin’ to the Hoop preparing for takeoff

Versailles High School standout Justin Ahrens is verbally committed to OSU. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
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Versailles High School standout Justin Ahrens is verbally committed to OSU. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Eric Horstman is still loaded with start-up energy and committed to anchoring one of the nation’s most sought-after boys basketball shootouts in the Miami Valley.

That's a good thing, because area basketball will get its annual midseason infusion of highlights, five-star players and celebrated college coaches of interest in the 15th Premier Health Flyin' to the Hoop over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend Friday through Monday.

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Flyin’ will feature 37 teams and 20 games, including six each on Saturday-Monday, all at Fairmont’s Trent Arena in Kettering.

“Like I’ve said from Day 1, just like the movie, if you build it they will come and I think we’ve done a pretty good job in building it,” Horstman said.

As usual, Flyin’ will have an abundance of area and high-end state topenereams mixed against traveling prep-school powers. Sidney plays host Fairmont in Friday night’s opener, followed by IMG Academy (Fla.) vs. Hamilton Heights (Tenn.).

Wayne(Saturday), Dunbar (Sunday) and Alter vs. Middletown (Monday) all drew the closing night marquee matchups. Wayne will play Huntington Prep (W.Va.) and Dunbar gets Covington Catholic (Ky.). Middletown is led by former Thurgood Marshall coach Darnell Hoskins.

“Early on you’re always learning on the go and I’m not saying we’re still not learning, but in some ways certain things are on cruise control,” Horstman said. “I know it sounds weird, but you’re trying to contain the beast. … It’s a matter of making sure it’s a first-class event and we put first-class competition on the court.”

Players to watch: Can't go wrong with five-star standouts Gary Trent Jr. and Paul Scruggs of Prolific Prep (Calif.), Trevon Duval and Silvio De Sousa of IMG Academy (Fla.) and Jaemyn Brakfield of Huntington Prep (W.Va.). Duval is another 6-3 point and De Sousa a 6-8 power forward. Neither have signed.

A 6-5 guard, Trent has signed with Duke. His father, high-scoring Gary Trent, was labeled the “Shaq of the Mac” while piling up the points at Ohio University. Scruggs, a 6-3 guard, signed with Xavier. Brakefield, 6-9, is an undeclared sophomore from Jackson, Miss.

Future Buckeyes: At least three incoming Ohio State players will be at Flyin', Versailles junior Justin Ahrens. Upper Arlington junior Dane Goodwin is the high-scoring son of former UD Flyer standout and Capital University men's coach Damon Goodwin. There's also Darius Bazley from Princeton, a 6-8 forward.

New this year: Girls basketball makes its Flyin' debut and a scholarship.

Alter, the two-time Division II girls state champion, makes a Flyin' breakthrough against Cleveland St. Joseph Academy at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Also, the first Flyin' scholarship, courtesy of River Valley Credit Union, will be presented at halftime of a Sunday game. The scholarship is for $1,000 and will go annually to a participating area player.

Tickets: Reserved seats for all four days were sold out in October. General admission daily passes remain. Saturday is likely to be the first day to sell out. A four-day general pass is $50. On Friday, reserved seating is $20 and $10 general admission.

Saturday-Monday general admission is $15 and reserved seating $25. Tickets are good for all games each day.

Announcers: Kettering resident Bill Reyer and Piqua's Duane Bachman is the entrenched dynamic duo. Expect to hear "And that's why they call it Flyin' to the Hoop," early and often.

Website: flyintothehoop.com.

PREMIER HEALTH FLYIN’ TO THE HOOP SCHEDULE

At Fairmont’s Trent Arena

Friday’s games

Sidney vs. Fairmont, 6:30 p.m.

IMG (Fla.) vs. Hamilton Heights (Tenn.), 8:15 p.m.

Saturday’s games

Alter girls vs. Cle. St. Joseph, 11:30 a.m.

Springfield vs. Col. Eastmoor Academy, 1:15 p.m.

Beavercreek vs. Hilliard Bradley, 3 p.m.

Pickerington Central vs. Wheeler (Ga.), 4:45 p.m.

Our Savior New American (N.Y.) vs. Massillon Jackson, 6:30 p.m.

Wayne vs. Huntington Prep (W.Va.), 8:15 p.m.

Sunday’s games

Gahanna Lincoln vs. Thurgood Marshall, 11:30 a.m.

Centerville vs. Cleveland Heights, 1:15 p.m.

Pickerington North vs. Akron SVSM, 3 p.m.

Upper Arlington vs. Garfield Heights, 4:45 p.m.

Prolific Prep (Calif.) vs. Huntington Prep (W.Va.), 6:30 p.m.

Dunbar vs. Covington Catholic (Ky.), 8:15 p.m.

Monday’s games

Tri-Village vs. Versailles, 11:30 a.m.

Trotwood-Madison vs. Prolific Prep (Calif.), 1:15 p.m.

Princeton vs. Wheeler (Ga.), 3 p.m.

Bethel vs. Cin. Roger Bacon, 4:45 p.m.

Alter vs. Middletown, 8:15 p.m.

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