Firebirds to join Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament
Jimmy Lewis | Restoration NewsMedia
Southern Nash's Jordan Vick (4) drives to the basket during a Jan. 26 3-A Big East Conference game at Hunt. The Firebirds will be the Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament's new out-of-county guest starting with the 2021-22 season after NCHSAA realignment moved Smithfield-Selma into the same league with Hunt and Fike.
WILSON — When the Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament makes its return to the area sports scene in December, it will carry the feel of a true neighborhood get-together.
Contracts were recently signed to make Southern Nash High the annual out-of-county guest for the three-day prep basketball extravaganza, with the Firebirds joining the usual suspects of Hunt, Fike and Beddingfield.
The addition became a distinct possibility following completion of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s realignment for the next four years, which put Farris & Farris interloper Smithfield-Selma in the 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference with the Warriors and Golden Demons. At the same time, realignment took Southern Nash out of the Big East as presently constituted, but the Firebirds will retain the league’s name alongside its Nash County colleagues of Rocky Mount, Northern Nash and Nash Central.
However, the desire not to continue nonconference meetings in holiday play was mutual between Hunt, Fike and Smithfield-Selma.
“We’re disappointed that we don’t have the Nash County schools in our conference anymore,” Wilson County Schools athletic director Jimmy Tillman said. “But as soon as that happened, Robbie Kennedy and I sort of looked at each other. Because now, (Smithfield-Selma) is in our conference, and we didn’t want to have to play them three or four times a year. And they didn’t want to have to play us three or four times a year. So it just worked out great.”
The move ends Smithfield-Selma’s association with the tournament, which dates back to the 2013-14 seasons. SSS’s boys team never played for the tourney championship in that span.
Kennedy, the athletic director and boys basketball coach at Southern Nash, indicated that Fike was already on the nonconference schedule for 2021-22. Yet Hunt and Beddingfield were absent — until now.
“It’s close, and I think our fans will really enjoy it,” Kennedy said. “Their Christmas tournament is always really good, so it was really easy for us once they told us we could come.”
Given the propensity of Southern Nash’s fans to travel, a return to capacity crowds is anticipated as a normal high school sports calendar looms in August.
The tearing of tickets at the gate, especially after a pandemic-ravaged season that left swaths of empty seats, is a welcome sight for those tasked with adding up dollars and cents.
“Believe me, after this year, we need all the fans we can get!” Tillman exclaimed.
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