GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - For 13 years, the Heartland Hoops Classic has grown into one of the premiere events in Central Nebraska. Grand Island Central Catholic boys basketball coach, Tino Martinez came up with the idea in 2008 and it has now become a showcase for some of the best teams in Nebraska.
"I just feel like we've been blessed a long time here with the quality of teams that we've had in our area and I think those teams need to be showcased on a state level basis," Martinez said.
"[Martinez] just does a great job of promoting basketball in this area and getting people interested about it. Getting great match-ups," Hastings College Men's Basketball Coach, Bill Gavers said. "In the 13 years of the Hoops Classic, he's had tremendous memorable match-ups that people will be talking about for years."
From the best teams in Central Nebraska, to the best teams in the country. The event has grown to be not only a state classic but a national showcase.
"It's really become a national event. I've had to turn down, since the classic this year, 10 or so teams on the national level that want to come here and compete," Martinez said. "So, we're able to pick and choose who we want to work with on a National level."
Now after 13 years, he is expanding the event to Hastings for the first ever Heartland Hoops Holiday Classic.
"It wasn't supposed to be anything off the expansion of the Hoops Classic. More along the lines of I'm trying to help Kearney Catholic, Adams Central, myself," Martinez said. "We're trying to fill our schedules up and I thought it did the trick as far as getting some good opponents too."
It is too early to tell what the event will turn into and if it becomes anything like the Heartland Hoops Classic, Central Nebraska could have another state staple on its hands.
The Heartland Hoops Holiday Classic is happening Saturday, December 19 at Lynn Farrell Arena:
12:00pm Amherst vs Sandy Creek
1:45pm Yutan vs Doniphan Trumbull
3:30pm Waverly vs Kearney Catholic
5:15pm Omaha Skutt vs Grand Island Central Catholic
7:00pm Chase County vs Adams Central