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Welcome one and all.
The Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic basketball tournament opens today at Ketchikan High School.
The classic is named for Clarke Cochrane, an avid Ketchikan sports enthusiast who started the Christmas tournament, taught and coached at the high school for 16 years, and whose caring attitude endeared him to students, the school’s staff and the community before he died in 1983.
Kayhi’s boys will be welcoming teams from Anacortes, Washington, Wrangell; Juneau’s Thunder Mountain, Navajo Prep in Farmington, New Mexico; and Metlakatla.
Ketchikan’s girls will entertain teams from Wrangell, Thomas Jefferson at Auburn, Wash., Metlakatla, West Valley in Anchorage, Navajo Prep, and Kenai.
Action begins at 9 a.m. with Wrangell playing Thomas Jefferson in the girls bracket, followed by the boys opener between Anacortes and Wrangell at 10:45 a.m.
The three-day tournament, which will feature five boys players at 6 feet 5 inches or taller, and two girls at 6-plus feet, winds up with championship games at 7:30 p.m. (girls) and 9:15 p.m. (boys) Saturday.
This tournament is a big deal in Ketchikan. It also features spirit-filled Kayhi cheerleaders, the talented K-HighLites Dance Team, a rowdy pep club and pep band, and familiar faces from past Kayhi years home for Christmas break.
It also attracts community fans and the appreciation of local sponsors and businesses as visitors accompanying teams check into hotels, eat in restaurants and shop in Ketchikan stores. Metlakatla often travels with an entourage of passionate supporters who love the game of basketball and heighten the exhilaration as the Chiefs’ and Miss Chiefs’ games unfold. Teams that travel from farther locales might bring supporters, but nothing to the extent of Met.
That’s what it’s been like in past years, and this year promises not to disappoint in that regard.
There will be winners and losers, but all are certainly guaranteed a good time at the long-time tradition of the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic.
And there will be one aspect or another for all comers to enjoy.