Telus Classic announces final year

Thursday, December 5, 2013 – Submitted by Megan Stewart, Vancouver Courier


One of the country’s most recognized invitational high school basketball tournaments will host its final games this week after 14 years at centre court.

The HSBC Classic held its first 32-team boys competition in 2000 at eight locations and, just like this year, the finals were hosted at UBC. The invitational awared 20 athletes with a $1,000 scholarship.

Since then, the tournament has expanded to include girl basketball and a cheerleading competition. Focused events for aboriginal athletes and disabled players were also added. Since the second year, the best male and female athletes were offered a scholarship to the B.C. university of their choice.

“We’ve had a 15-year run and it’s time for us to step aside and let other people in the community take leadership if they so choose,” said the tournament’s founder and director, Howard Kelsey.

The tournament was renamed the Telus Classic in 2011. With Kelsey’s assistance, Telus will shift its sponsorship from the pre-season to the provincial championship for all four boys tiers (A, AA, AAA and AAAA) and three girls tiers at the senior level as well as the inaugural junior provincials for boys and girls.

The Telus sponsorship will total $75,000 annually for the B.C. Championships, he said.

Succession planning for the Basketball Classic began after the decision to end the tournament began a year ago.

“It took a lot of work to get it to this level and to ensure it continues, we had to be certain when we let it go. It was the right time. Now there will be a focus on the marquee event, which Telus has already committed to,” said Kelsey, whose affiliation with the national basketball program lent immediate credibility to the December invitational.

Kelsey said he and the organizing Canada One Foundation will not choose a successor but he knows there is interest from numerous groups. The Point Grey secondary graduate who played basketball for Canada at the 1984 Olympics, said he will advise future organizers if he’s asked.

“There are two groups that are both credible and work with us already,” he said, declining to name those organizations.

“Two I can say are current sponsors of the tournament. We’re also in discussion with UBC, the [Vancouver Police Department] as well as Basketball B.C.”

He emphasized the importance of smooth succession to prolong the legacy of the tournament and mixed his sports metaphors to hit home his point.

“This week I need to get details before us to pass the baton. First of all, once we step away it’s really not our prerogative who might decide to run it because they can take a tournament on those dates and decide to do with it what they want. If they want us to be advisors, we’re happy to be advisors, but we won’t be having our hands on the steering wheel as we used to.

“Depending who the group is, we can set it up on a golf tee as best we can but then one just has to trust the next leg of the relay is being run by a good runner.

“We would like to leave a positive legacy.”

HSBC was title sponsor for 11 years and continues to offer 30 scholarships.

The 2013 Telus Basketball Classic begins Wednesday at various locations.

Dec. 4 schedule for Vancouver boys tournament:

At 2:30 p.m. St. George’s hosts Richmond and Tupper hosts Vancouver College.

Kitsilano hosts Port Moody at 2 p.m. and Churchill meets Sentinel 4:15 p.m. at St. George’s.

The final begins 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at UBC’s War Memorial Gym.

Dec. 4 schedule for Vancouver girls tournament:

At 4:15 pm, John Oliver plays Holy Cross at Windsor secondary, and Notre Dame travels to Burnaby South to play Argyle.

York House meets MEI 4:45 p.m. at Brookswood secondary, and Britannia plays Handsworth 5:15 p.m. at Riverside secondary.

The final begins 5:45 p.m. Dec. 7 at UBC’s War Memorial Gym.

Tickets to the final are free if they’re picked up at UBC before Saturday. For more details, visit
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