It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Basketball

LueThe second annual Steel City Invitational is worth a visit.

By Luke Robinson


Me: Do you like fantastic basketball?

You: Yeah!

Me: Do you like good times and cool venues with high-flying action?

You: Yeah!!!!

Me: Do you like thrilling sports moments filled with last-second drama?

You: YEAH!!!!!!

Me: Do you like….

You: Hey man…where are going with this? I already said “yeah” like three times.


OK then. If you are a basketball fan of any description, the second annual Steel City Invitational is this month and you need to be there! Whether you follow hoops religiously or just want to get away from the holiday-visiting in-laws, go ahead and plan to spend some time at the Pete Hanna Center on Samford’s campus Dec. 19–22. There are enough great players, teams, and games to choke a Jurassic goat, so you can’t go wrong on any of the days.

I wrote about how awesome the AHSAA’s Final 48 basketball tournament is in this very column last February. Think of the Steel City Invitational as a primer for those championships. Teams from all over Alabama will converge in Birmingham for the pre-Christmas tournament that will only get more popular as the years go by. Even the most moderate followers of high school hoops will be intrigued by the talented field of participating teams.

Mountain Brook: No big deal here, just the two-time defending state champs. Somehow, when no one was looking, Coach Bucky McMillan turned a mediocre program into a jumping juggernaut that would have James Naismith twerking with excitement. Those neon uniforms they sport may give you the impression that this team works on the highways at night, but none of these Spartans stand still unless it is to get their picture taken with a championship trophy.

Wenonah: Coach Cedric Lane has moved over to Jackson-Olin, but his departure opened the spot for longtime Woodlawn assistant Audwin Howard. This team will feature a lot of fresh faces, but historically Wenonah has cranked out the likes of De’Runnya Wilson, Justin Coleman, and Isaiah Matson, so talent won’t be an issue. Don’t cry for Wenonah, though; when this team walks into the gym, the name on their jerseys usually gives them a five-point lead before the game starts.

Midfield: Another name, another defending champion. This time from 3A. If you happened to catch the Patriots’ title contest last year, then you no doubt saw the best-dressed coaching staff in the history of sports. Oh, and some good basketball too.

Hoover: You think the Bucs only play football? Nope. It’s Hoover, man! They are good at most urrythang.

Ramsay: A Final 48 runner-up last year, the Rams have reemerged as a perennial power. My mom always said, “It’s not a real holiday basketball tournament unless Ramsay is in it.” OK, she never said that, but she should have said it. It’s even more intriguing that Ramsay lost to…

Parker: The Herd will be back in the Steel City Invitational. Of course, Parker won this event last year defeating the likes of larger schools like Bob Jones and Mountain Brook.

Theodore: The Mobile powerhouse will be lead by Alabama commitment Dazon Ingram (if you are into recruiting and stuff).

The rest of the field includes Tuscaloosa County, Grissom, Fairfield, Bessemer City, Clay Chalkville, Cullman, J.O. Johnson, Faith Academy, and Bibb County. All of these squads bring winning traditions, bright futures, and/or incredible individual talent.

All teams are guaranteed at least one game per day, so whether you pick that Friday, Saturday, or Monday (Sunday is a chill day), you can see the team or teams you are looking for.

Look, there are some of you out there (you know who you are) who have always claimed to be just as big of a basketball fan as you are a football fan. Here’s your chance to prove it. The Birmingham Tip Off Club and Knight-Eady Sports Group have put together an incredible tournament; all you have to do is show up and enjoy!

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