TERRE HAUTE — I know virtually nothing about wine, but I do know that the best of it gets better with age. That’s apparently true of the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic, the great high school basketball marathon at Terre Haute North last week that left me as full as a Christmas dinner and as tired as any hoops fanatic should be after he’s just watched 28 basketball games over four days.
There have been other great Classics in the past, and certainly there’s been considerably more suspense going into the final moments of other championship games, but this year’s tourney was just plain fun. The basketball was competitive, the conversation lively, and I don’t seem to have missed much more than a few college bowl games with my time investment.
As usual, I planned to leave the game analysis, the facts and stats and coaches’ comments, to the corps of Tribune-Star sports writers who rotated the use of their brains and backsides to the War and Peace-sized task of covering the games themselves. I sat in every section of bleachers in the gym, talked to dozens of people, and in the end, placed my own spin on what took place.
Keeping that wine analogy in mind, I think the Classic is a little like a tasting party. I sampled about everything the tournament had to offer, but I’m still savoring the last drop. It was a good year, a very good year.
My Other Brother, Darrell — If you’ve been to many Classics, there’s a good chance that you found Earl and Darrell Roundtree there. The two are brothers — no, I don’t know if there’s another brother Darrell — and they get to the games early and stay late. They eat just about every form of food the tournament fare offers, visit with anyone who sits within a 25-foot radius of their black and yellow stadium seats (so heavy-duty they look as if they were custom-built by Caterpillar), and are about as big of fans that the PHWVC has.