SALISBURY, Md. – As crowds fill the stands at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, cars fill the streets of Wicomico County.
The Governor’s Challenge is back after a three-year break due to COVID.
Tournament Director James Simmons says the event is a huge draw for the Peninsula’s economy.
“It’s a huge impact with those teams staying in hotel rooms, families coming to watch their kids participate and staying in hotels rooms and eating in restaurants, we’ve got teams that are staying here the whole week from Monday through Friday,” he said.
Rasheedah Gillespie once competed in the Governor’s Challenge. Now she’s back to coach the Sussex Tech Lady Ravens.
“All teams want to compete, we want to play against better talent. It’s nice to play against your friends on other teams, but it’s also nice to compete with teams from Philly, PA, and New York,” she said.
Rasheedah’s Assistant Coach Coecie Scott says it is a blessing to have a tournament like this one in our backyard.
“A lot of people come for the beaches and shopping but to be able to bring in this type of revenue for basketball is amazing. And I’m happy to celebrate and be able to pour my money into this area as well,” she said.
While Simmons says equally as important as the economic impact is the opportunity to spotlight local athletes.
“That’s really what it’s all about. Giving those athletes the chance to be seen and to have the chance to play on a national stage,” he said.
Mitchell Northam wrote the book on high school basketball on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
He says the event has grown immensely from what Wi-Hi coach Butch Waller envisioned when it started in 1981.
“We’re here 40-some years later and there are hundreds of teams here from a lot of different states, so it really kind of put the Eastern Shore on the high school basketball map,” he said.
The action continues through Friday and airs live on the Delmarva Sports Network.
Games will also take place at Wicomico High School and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.