Building a tournament that attracts some of the best teams in Tennessee takes time, but Warren County High School girls basketball coach Erick Baird has done it in three years.
The third annual Sun Drop Romp Christmas tournament completed play Saturday at Charlie Dalton Gym, finishing a whirlwind three days that featured 42 games played at four different gyms.
Coach Baird, who began the tournament as a way to raise money for the Warren County basketball programs, thought this year's tournament featuring 25 teams was the best yet.
“It was the most exciting tournament yet,” said Baird. “We got to see some fabulous players and great teams compete.”
The 2011 tournament raised $8,000 for the program, a number coach Baird hopes to duplicate or surpass this year.
The girls tournament, featuring 11 teams, was won by Cannon County. The Lionettes beat the Cookeville Lady Cavaliers 71-64 in overtime behind 43 points from tournament MVP Abbey Sissom. Sissom hit the shot of the tournament, draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer over Cookeville superstar Hannah Goolsby that sent the game into overtime.
Wilson Central won the 14-team boys tournament Saturday. The Wildcats beat DeKalb County 59-49. Jacob Williams from the Wildcats was named tournament MVP.
While the tournament ran smoothly for the most part, even having games at Cannon County, DeKalb County, Warren County and Morrison Thursday night, there were some hiccups.
The Sequatchie County boys team had to drop out of the event after the first day when seven players caught the flu.
Hixson High School nearly dropped out the day before the event, citing transportation problems, but Baird drove the team's bus to keep the team in the tournament.
With rescheduling, travel duties and the need of an administrator at each game, coach Baird was forced to miss the Lady Pioneers' final three tournament games.
In his place, Anthony Lippe guided the Lady Pioneers to three straight wins. Coach Baird joked that he has no plans of switching to a role of full-time tournament director anytime soon following his team's recent winning streak.
“I may end up being a tournament director down the road, but I’m dedicated to the Lady Pioneers,” said Baird. “I’m proud of the girls and coach Lippe. It was a great opportunity for a young coach to grow.”
Baird has already begun making plans for the next year's event.