The INSIDE on the 33rd Annual Pizza Hut Invitational Basketball Tournament

from Rob Goodman 3-G Sports…

â–º New Name: With the 33rd renewal of Greensboroâ€s premier high school basketball tournament comes the next chapter of the tournamentâ€s rich history. The Little 4 is now the Pizza Hut Invitational. When the tournament began thirty two years ago, it was a four-team affair involving teams from Greensboroâ€s four public high schools. Through three decades of evolution, the event has become a true invitational tournament with the possibility of teams changing on an annual basis. 2007 participants Dudley and Southwest Guilford High Schools will not participate in the 2008 tournament as Northern Guilford and Ragsdale High Schools round out this yearâ€s field.

â–º Unusual Dates: The 2008 Pizza Hut Invitational will actually be contested in 2009 due to the way the calendar falls this year. Since Christmas is on a Thursday, the tournamentâ€s traditional dates would place the championship round on Sunday, Dec. 28, but the North Carolina High School Athletic Association does not permit its schools to play on Sundays. Due to Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center availability, the next window for the tournament is Jan. 1-3, 2009. A similar set of circumstances will affect the 2009 tournament, which will be played in January, 2010.

â–º The Tournament: The Pizza Hut Invitational was founded in 1976. At that time, the Big Four Atlantic Coast Conference schools, Duke, N.C. State, UNC-Chapel Hill and Wake Forest, competed in the Big Four Tournament in the Greensboro Coliseum. The Pizza Hut Invitational was created to mirror the tournament that showcased North Carolinaâ€s ACC teams and raise funds for the participating high schools†athletic programs. The Pizza Hut Invitational is now widely considered the most successful holiday basketball tournament in North Carolina.

â–º Major Fundraiser: Schools in Guilford County have received more than $818,000 in Pizza Hut Invitational proceeds from the Greensboro Sports Council in the last nine years. Following the 2007 tournament, $83,000 was distributed to the participating schools from the Pizza Hut Invitational. This Greensboro holiday tournament donates 100 percent of its proceeds to the participating schools and other local charitable causes every year.

â–º Charity: In addition to making its donations to the participating schools, the Pizza Hut Invitational makes other charitable contributions. Past tournament proceeds have been contributed to the American Cancer Societyâ€s Coaches vs. Cancer, Friends for an Earlier Breast Cancer Test, the Eastern Guilford High School Fund, the Joey Cheek Fund, North Carolina State Games and the Girls and Boys Club.

â–º 2007 Tournament: In last yearâ€s Pizza Hut Invitational, both top-seeded teams won their respective tournaments. The Grimsley High School lady Whirlies lived up to their pre-tournament billing by waltzing through the tournament field on the way to their seventh championship. The Whirlies defeated Greensboro Day, Page and Northwest Guilford High Schools on their way to the title. On the menâ€s side, Greensboro Day dispatched Northwest Guilford, Northeast Guilford and Dudley en route to their third consecutive championship and eighth tournament title overall.

â–º Honorary Chairperson: Camille Townsend is the Honorary Chairperson of the 2008 Pizza Hut Invitational. An integral part of the Greensboro sports landscape for more than a decade, Townsend has been a member of the Greensboro Sports Council Host Committee since 1995. She is one of the original volunteer coordinators for the Atlantic Coast Conference Menâ€s and Womenâ€s Basketball tournaments, when held in the Greensboro Coliseum. She has been active in the Greensboro Sports Commission office for more than five years, and in January of this year, she became a fulltime Sports Commission employee when she accepted the title of Office and Administrative Manager.

â–º About Pizza Hut: Since 1989, Pizza Hut has been the title sponsor of the Pizza Hut Invitational. Commodore Restaurants operates eight Pizza Hut locations in the Greensboro area. Additional information about Pizza Hut and Commodore Restaurants is available at

â–º Womenâ€s Stats: The Page Pirates have won more womenâ€s tournaments than any other school with 10 titles. The Lady Pirates have played for the championship 14 times, also more than any other team.

â–  Championships â–  Title Game Appearances

â–  Page High School – 10 â–  Page High School – 14

â–  Western Guilford – 4 â–  Dudley High School – 9

â–  Grimsley High School – 5 â–  Smith High School – 7

â–  Northeast Guilford – 3 â–  Western Guilford – 6

â–  Smith High School – 2 â–  Grimsley High School – 7

â–  Northwest Guilford – 2 â–  Northeast Guilford – 5

â–  Dudley – 1 â–  Northwest Guilford – 4

â–  Eastern Guilford – 2(appearances)

â–º Menâ€s Stats: Dudley High School has won more menâ€s championships than any other school taking top honors 10 times. The Panthers have played for the championship in 19 of the 32 Pizza Hut Invitational title games.

â–  Championships â–  Title Game Appearances

â–  Dudley High School – 10 â–  Dudley High School – 19

â–  Greensboro Day – 8 â–  Greensboro Day School – 12

â–  Page High School – 7 â–  Grimsley High School – 12

â–  Grimsley High School – 5 â–  Page High School – 10

â–  Smith High School – 2 â–  Smith High School – 7

â–  Eastern Guilford – 1(appearance)

â–  Southeast Guilford – 1(appearance)

â–  Southwest Guilford – 1(appeaarance)

â–  Northeast Guilford – 1(appearance)

â–º Overtime Championships: The Pizza Hut Invitational championship game has gone to overtime twice, and both times, it was a Dudley – Greensboro Day title tilt. In 1987, Greensboro Day beat Dudley 57-55 in Greensboro Dayâ€s first Pizza Hut Invitational appearance. In 1992, the tables were turned as the Panthers beat the Bengals 66-63.

â–º Scholarships: The Bill Lee Memorial Scholarship was established in 2001. Lee was a Greensboro native and resident who was a major supporter of local sports. He was deeply involved with Greensboroâ€s minor league baseball efforts, basketball and golf. The Greensboro Sports Council established the scholarship following Leeâ€s death in 2001. Recipients are nominated by their schools, and the Greensboro Sports Council awards the scholarships. Each nomination is considered with the following criteria: 40% academic, 40% athletic and 20% civic. Four student-athletes receive a scholarship each year; 28 scholarships have been awarded since 2001.

â–º Sponsorship: Pizza Hut Invitational revenue comes from ticket sales and sponsorships. The Greensboro Sports Council is very active in raising funds for the tournament, and for the fifth consecutive year, participating schools are sharing in the sponsorship efforts. Each school is soliciting a minimum of $1,500 in sponsorship. Pizza Hut Invitational sponsorship is among the most economical sports marketing opportunities available to local companies.

â–º 2008 Participating Schools: Greensboro Day School, Grimsley High School, Northeast Guilford, Northern Guilford, Northwest Guilford, Page High School, Smith High School and Ragsdale High School.

â–º Tickets: Pizza Hut Invitational tickets are available through the participating schools or at the Greensboro Coliseum Box Office. Tournament books containing tickets for all games are $15. Single-session tickets are $7 for the opening and semi-final rounds and $10 for championship day. Single session tickets are only available at the door of Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center box office.

1 comment

  1. Great Info! Being a native of California, I had no idea the history of the tournament. I attended my first one last year. I was able to attend all 3 days and all games. Great to see all that talent in one place.

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