State Farm Holiday Classic basketball tournament put on hold

Just hours ago, the organizers for the annual State Farm Holiday Classic announced this year's basketball tournament, which was scheduled to run from December 28-31, has been cancelled in a post to Facebook. It is the first break in the event's 42-year run.

Riley Baker looks to pass
SJO's Riley Baker looks to pass the ball while playing during the 2016 State Farm Holiday Classic. The annual tournament was cancelled for the 2020 season amid health concerns for athletes, spectators and officials. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
With the possibility of a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic during the winter months and the restrictions on the number of spectators allowed by the Illinois Public Health Department at sporting events, it was a decision makes financial sense for the long term viability of the tournament.

"Please know this is not a decision we made lightly, but in order to ensure the safety of all participants (players, coaches, administrators, fans, officials, volunteers, tournament staff and sponsors), we find it best to not organize a tournament this year," the statement read. "Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this difficult time! We wish all of our schools and their athletic programs nothing but the best this year, and we hope everyone remains safe and healthy!"

Making its debut in 1975, the tournament was originally named the Illinois State Classic. Since then the tournament has grown to be one of the largest coed holiday basketball tournaments in the country. Through out its history there have been dozens high school athletes who went on to become not only professional basketball players, but also NFLers and Olympic athletes.

Each year the games are played at four venues in Bloomington-Normal: Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center, Bloomington High School, Normal Community High School and Normal West High School. This would have also been the 24th installment of the girls tournament and the 19th of the Ron Knisley Memorial Special Olympics Shootout, which is also hosted by organizers.

Last December, the St. Joseph-Ogden boys squad was the #6 seed and finished in 6th place. The Spartans opened their 2019 tournament appearance with a 47-42 win over #11 Annawan on their way to a 2-2 finish.

On the ladies side, SJO brought home a 5th place trophy after a 3-1 run logging wins over Bishop Mac, Annawan and Illini Prairie Conference rival Bloomington Central. The team's only loss was to eventual small school champion Normal University.

Tournament organizers vows the tournament will return in 2021. Dates for the event are scheduled December 27-30.

In order to adhere to the guidelines set forth by both the Illinois High School Association and the State of Illinois,...

Posted by State Farm Holiday Classic on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

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