Looking back at the Pizza Hut Little Four

This year’s tournament was almost off the charts, with a sell-out crowd for Friday night’s finals. They had to stop selling tickets for the Greensboro Day-Dudley boys game and the crowd was announced to be right at 4,500.

This tournament has come a long way when you look back at 1997 when the Grimsley boys defeated Eastern Guilford 72-55 for the boys trophy and NEG topped Grimsley 67-49 in the girls game. In 1997 the games ran Friday, Saturday, and Monday. Or at least they were supposed to. The final night ended up being a Tuesday afternoon affair with the boys game starting at 6:30 pm. The girls game got under way at 4pm. It snowed on Monday and the finals had to be moved back one day. The games were being played in the main Coliseum in those days and the crowds were very small. There was a sheet of ice up under the floor and that made for some pretty cool conditions down along press row.

The Little Four seems to run so much smoother in the Special Events Center than it did in the main Coliseum. The tournament has grown by leaps and bounds since Donald Moore took over back about 1998 and helped the Greensboro Sports Council turn things around. After Moore took over the Little Four became a big event again and sponsors were glad to offer up their support. At one time back around 1979-1980 they were even showing the boys finals on tape-delay on WFMY TV2 at 11:30pm on Friday nights, that’s how big the Little Four was back in the beginning.

The Sports Council with Donald Moore leading the way was able to take the Pizza Hut Little Four Tournament to another level of profitability. Kevin McCoy and David Flynt, this year’s co-chairmen kept the ball rolling for the Little Four.

The talent level has also grown. Back in 1997 Grimsley had guys like Walker Holt who went on to play at Clemson, but this year’s field had Greensboro Day’s Javan Mitchell as MVP(he’s only a junior and he’s going somewhere big before it over), Jay Lewis(also a junior), and Bruce Woodall.
Dudley puts men like Brandon Pennix on the floor, he’s nearly unstoppable inside.(GDS was able to slow him down). Freshman PJ Hairston has everybody talking and it won’t stop until Roy Williams steals him away from Arizona. Keith Manley of Grimsley is much-improved and he is drawing considerable attention from recruiters. Christian Tonkins and JB Beloved of Grimsley are also getting looks. Julius Brooks of Page is still waiting to explode and Luqman Tijani is right behind him. NEG has Markee Brown and Jamal Rasool hoping for some more recognition. All and all the talent pool is getting deeper.

The same can be said for the girls. Grimsley has four Division I signees in their starting lineup and Trumae Lucas, Nicole Hargraves, Krystin Fields, and Jasmine Alston have themselves a title. The same can be said of Coach Phil Weaver who also led the Whirlies to titles back in 2000 and 2002. Coach Weaver said at the start of this season(which is set to be his last on the sidelines), his goals were to, “Win the Little Four, Win the Conference, and Contend for the state title”. One down, two to go, and the Whirlies will be expected to accomplish all three of those objectives.

The boys final again was Greensboro Day 55, Dudley 46 and Grimsley 56, Northwest Guilford 38 in the girls championship game. Another great tournament, and now who is gonna stop GDS? The Bengals have now won three straight boys titles and will be looking for a record fourth- straight title in 2008.