MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - High school basketball teams from across the country will make their way to Myrtle Beach over the next few weeks to try to shoot their way to a title at the 40th annual Beach Ball Classic.
This first weekend is the girls’ tournament featuring 20 teams, considerably less than the 80 teams coordinators were expecting before the coronavirus. Executive Director John Rhodes thinks going on and having the tournament will help them get that number back up for next year.
Rhodes has been in charge of coordinating the Beach Ball Classic for nearly four decades, and it’s made every Christmas since 1981 a little unusual for him and his family.
“Come Christmas Day, we had Christmas, then come 1 p.m., I left and moved into the hotel until the first of January,” said Rhodes. “I’ve done that every year for 39 years.”
Rhodes will do that same routine again this year, as he’s managed to gather enough teams to put on the event despite the pandemic.
He said that makes it the only national high school basketball tournament in the country this year.
“Everybody is supporting this event to take place because it comes at a time when the economic impact is essential to the success to cap off a year,” said Rhodes.
He’s been in charge since before girls were included in the first place, and was a driving force to organizing the girls’ tournament half of the Beach Ball Classic.
“One thing I like about girls is that they would come up and say, ‘Thank you for inviting us to play in this tournament.,’” said Rhodes. “That’s how much the tournament meant to the young ladies.”
So although this year is a step back because of the pandemic, Rhodes has a goal in mind for what the tournament may eventually look like.
“We have the capabilities of being the largest girl’s tournament in the country with 128 teams down the road,” he said.
Rhodes also said one thing that will hopefully help to attain that goal of 128 teams is that three of the games this year will be broadcast on national television.
He said that’s never been done before in a girls’ high school basketball tournament.
Masks will be required, capacity will be restricted to 1,800 and temperatures will be checked at the gates.