The title is a mouthful but it is the most well-known pre-season Panorama in the basketball realm — and has been for over two decades.
Its host — Sheldon Clark High School — has done an incredible job of bringing in incredible talent each year. You can always expect to see Kentucky High School Basketball’s top teams of that year on the schedule — plus some elite out of state schools — and in doing so, it has featured big name recruits like Rajon Rondo, Allan Houston, O.J. Mayo, Damien Fishback, Tim Couch, John Pelphrey, J.R. VanHoose, and many more.
2015’s lineup had an appearance from John Calipari himself — who was there recruiting Sacha Killeya-Jones.
The game has also had some legendary contributors and staff. The most noteworthy being Robin Harmon Newsome. Robin is a former Kentucky All-Star, 4-time Regional Champion, and legendary coach. She said, “Along the way, the Tip-Off Classic became a first class event in which we really didnt have to invite teams. I had a waiting list of schools all over state who wanted in it.” Robin ran the tournament as Sheldon Clark Athletic Director from 2005-2017.
This year’s schedule may be one of the event’s best, as we will be seeing Pendleton County — led by Senior Dontaie Allen, who is the University of Kentucky’s first in-state recruit since 2013 — when Cal signed Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis.
For the Louisville fans, you’ll also get a chance to see UofL’s latest in-state recruit: David Johnson of Trinity — and he is a joy to watch; UHA’s KyKy Tandy, an Xavier commit who plays some extremely smooth basketball; and last but not least, a highly skilled Michael Moreno of Scott County, who is currently uncommitted but sitting on several offers. Also participating, a bit of local talent: Lexington Herald-Leader Top 25 players 6’11” Sophomore Trey James and Senior Jacob Rice.
The Zip-Zone Classic Full Schedule
Saturday, November 24th 2018
Booth Energy Center (Formerly Sheldon Clark High School)
9:15 – Martin County Middle vs Logan, WV
10:15 – Sheldon Clark vs Prestonsburg (Girls)
11:55 – Pikeville vs Greenup County
1:20 – Shelby Valley vs Elliott County
2:45 – Scott County vs University Heights
4:10 – George Rogers Clark vs Trinity
5:35 – Johnson Central vs Knott County
7:00 – Pendleton County vs Chapmanville, WV
8:25 – Sheldon Clark vs East Ridge
For the first time in a couple of years, this tournament will be back in its original location, only under a new name: Booth Energy Center. Those of you familiar with the area will know it as Sheldon Clark’s old gym.
Martin County entrepreneur Jim Booth purchased and renovated the old building — and this will be the first event held in the newly named Booth Energy Center.
Jim and his family have contributed to the community of Inez in just about every way imaginable — from sporting events to providing jobs for the area — they’ve been a key part of what gives this tournament its longevity and success.
James Mills, VP of Operations for Zip Zone Express, Inc., says “Zip Zone Express is excited to continue our tradition of hosting the Tip-Off Classic. For over 20 years, we have been dedicated to putting together an exciting program that showcases high school basketball talent from around the state. Furthermore, Zip Zone Express has always been dedicated to our community, and we are looking forward to donating the proceeds from the event to the Sheldon Clark Athletic Department.”
Tickets for the Tip-Off Classic will be $5 for general admission, first come first serve — and like Mr. Mills said, the Zip Zone event is charitable — 100% of the proceeds from both ticket and concession sales go directly to Sheldon Clark Athletics. Programs will be available as well, make sure you snag one!
Now, for the good stuff. While you’re around, you’ve gotta eat. And maybe you or the kids will need a break from the roundball — so let this native Martin Countian give you an insider’s guide on what to do while you’re in town.
The Brookshire Inn
Inez, KY 41224
Now through November 24th, you can mention the Tip-Off Classic and get $10 off your stay. The Brookshire Inn is 1 mile away from the gym where the games will be played and puts you next to a Zip Zone location, where you can get fuel or grab some Papa Johns pizza!
Things to Do:
Main Street Cinemas
387 Main Street
Inez, KY 41224
You would be hard-pressed to find another theatre this clean and accommodating in this neck of the woods. Located in the Roy F. Collier Community Center Main Street Cinema hosts movie-release themed activities for kids and neighbors an arcade and indoor playground.
God’s Promise Trail
If you’re up for a good hike, right beside of the Roy F. Collier Community Center mentioned above, there’s a beautiful trail you can climb and really experience the joy of the beauty in the area. It is a wonderful spot to get back in touch with nature.
Cloud 9 Cafe
2960 Airport Road
Davella, KY 41214
One of Coach Cal’s personal favorites is the Cloud 9 Cafe. Nestled on Route 3 South before arriving in Inez, it’s beside of Martin County’s very own airport. The view on the drive to the restaurant is picturesque — and if you drive slowly enough, you just might see a few Elk. Try the Monte Christo!
Inez Dairy Bar
402 E Main St
Inez, KY 41224
If you’re looking for a sit-down, local burgers-and-ice-cream joint, look no further than Inez Dairy Bar. They have a long menu with a lot of options for everyone — and make sure you try Mrs. Judy’s homemade desserts sitting right there in the case at the counter.
1488 Blacklog Rd.
Inez, KY 41224
Anybody that was raised in Inez and moved away will always tell you — their “must have” on a visit home is Pizza Stop. A wide variety of pizza flavors and sub sandwiches, you can’t go wrong with just about anything you choose. If you stop by, ask for the local favorite — the Ham Wedge.
Of course if you’re in a hurry, there are quite a few Fast Food choices in town. McDonald’s is just across the way from the gym, and in downtown Inez you’ll find Taco Bell, KFC, and a Subway — right across from the movie theater. If you stop by Subway, tell them you’re here for the Zip Zone Tip-Off Classic, and you’ll get a free cookie with your purchase.
I’ll be on site most of the day, hopefully enjoying some competitive basketball all while soaking in the nostalgia of the re-opening of my alma mater’s gym. See you all there!
Kayla Moore VanHoose
Follow @BluegrassBball on Twitter!
Thanks go to Tiffany Nichols Fannin, Dwayne Sweeney, and Robin Newsome for your contributions of information for this article.