By PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 27, 2000
A trial run, he calls it. Maybe get a few teams together just to test the waters, to see if he can make something work.
That's what Admiral Farragut athletic director and boys basketball coach Mike Wells said he was doing. Apparently, Wells has a form of Type A personality because what he actually has done is like testing the waters -- in a canoe in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Sixteen boys basketball teams, including five from Canada, will partake in the inaugural Blue Jacket Holiday Classic beginning today. Wells' primary concern is there won't be enough school personnel in the area over the holiday break to help him hold the tournament. From the concession stands to ticket takers to game announcers, tournaments need manpower.
"We're a boarding school, so it will be harder for us to do this. I don't know. We're going to find out," Wells said. "It might be too tough on the kids, too. Our kids are from all over, and they look forward to the time off to go home.
"We're going to give it a shot and see how it goes."
A few miles up the road from Farragut, Wells' original 16-team holiday tournament -- the Keswick Christian Suncoast Classic, which Wells established when he was at Keswick -- also begins today, though it now will have two eight-team tournaments, one for boys and one for girls. It wraps up with both title games Friday.
"We've got such a good girls team -- they made it to the (Class A) championship game last year -- that I didn't see why they should have to go somewhere else for a tournament when we could have one right here," Keswick athletic director Jack Clark said.
Interestingly, both the boys and girls teams from Jacksonville Arlington Country Day will be playing in St. Petersburg this week but in different tournaments. The girls are at Keswick and the nationally ranked boys are in the Hooters Holiday Shootout.
The Keswick girls field includes Class A, No. 2-ranked Jupiter Christian, which Keswick defeated in the state semifinal last year, No. 6 Mount Dora Bible, which plays Palm Harbor U. at 10 a.m. today, and No. 7 Arlington Country Day.
The top boys teams at the Blue Jacket Holiday Classic include St. Petersburg Catholic and Clearwater Central Catholic, which are a combined 20-1 and are ranked No. 5 and 6, respectively, in the Times Tampa Bay Top 10, and Benjamin Banneker of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Banneker is 12-1 but will be travel weary in its opening game today at 10 a.m. against Indian Rocks Christian. Banneker is taking a bus from New York and isn't expected to arrive until 7 this morning.