2019 LHC Pic

Callaway point guard Deashun Ruffin, an Ole Miss signee, drives the lane during the 2019 edition of the Lighthouse Classic as the Chargers defeated Memphis Wooddale. Callaway capped the 2019-20 season by winning the 5A state championship as Ruffin went for 33 in the championship game.

Those familiar with me know that I spent 23 years on the radio. As a result, I many times relate how I’m feeling to the words of a song or movie.

Doesn’t everyone?

When the 2020 Lighthouse Classic was cancelled last week a plethora of emotions began to flow through my system, including sadness, selfishness and disbelief.

I’ll admit freely, the sadness and disbelief were warranted to a great degree, but the selfishness ... I’m not proud of that.

Classic fans can understand why I felt that way in the early stages. It’s only natural to want what we’re used to having, and the LHC has been a part of our lives since 2013. We start looking for that official schedule to come out, longing to see what big time teams and players will be in Cross City this year.

Many of us thirst for it.

But let’s be honest – with COVID still prominent in the world, and case numbers spiking again, we all likely knew this was a distinct possibility. Yet we still didn’t give up hope.

Then when the countdown started – two weeks until tournament time – many of us became giddy ... almost like a kid again. It became real. And just like that it was gone.

That’s when the words to an old Michael Bolton song popped into in my head.

“How am I supposed to live without you” kept running circles around my brain. Yes, I realize that song was written about a man losing a woman he loved, but we also love the Lighthouse Classic.

See the similarity?

In all seriousness, I know losing a person you love and losing a beloved basketball tournament are two different things. But love is love, right?

The bottom line is the LHC was going to look and feel much different than the previous seven. No packed gyms, no souvenir programs, no post game interviews for the media, social distancing and decreased capacity meant a lot fewer college scouts and coaches in town. There was to be a limit of around 250 spectators per contest and all day passes were not to be available. But many fans would be leaving the gym following the game they came to see followed by another group making their way into the gym afterwards. Masks would be required of course and concessions were to be extremely limited.

Being a sports editor, and an avid fan of high school hoops especially when it comes to elite talent, I will miss many things about the LHC.

First and foremost I’ll miss the buildup. All those pre-tournament previews and the hype that goes along with it. I always look forward, as many do, to seeing who the top-five can’t miss prospects will be. In fact that list was going to be in this Friday’s Daily Corinthian, along with a sit down one-on-one interview with tournament director Vince Overholt.

And I especially enjoy watching the Prep Challenge, the tournament within the tournament as it has been described.

So I’ll ask again, “Lighthouse Classic – how am I supposed to live without you?”

In all honesty, yes I will miss the LHC but I can see, and understand, the bigger picture. With COVID being a critical health risk for so many there was no other choice but to cancel the event.

To reiterate the words Overholt spoke last week, “At the end of the day it’s all about the safety of the players, coaches, fans, sponsors and everyone else involved.”

So until next year, we will miss you Lighthouse Classic. Maybe this virus will be under greater control next November and we can enjoy another two days of the best high school basketball to be found anywhere in the country.

After all the Lighthouse Classic is nationally-recognized as being a Top-3 Must See holiday tournament.

No Lighthouse Classic? No problem. I’ll just trim my hedges. They definitely need it.

Kent Mohundro is the sports editor for the Daily Corinthian. He can be reached at kmohundro@dailycorinthian.com or on twitter @kentmohundro

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