It all started with an idea, fielded by a group of coaches from Sequoyah County. Years of traveling to basketball tournaments in other locations in other counties, through inclement and often unpredictable January weather, and being dependent on the issue of an invitation to participate, convinced those coaches there must be a better way.
How could they organize a tournament, pit local teams against each other, indulge town to town rivalries, and give the teams an outlet to play in a tournament outside normal league play?
In 1999, a group of coaches approached Armstrong Bank with their idea. They wanted to organize a Sequoyah County tournament, and wondered if Armstrong Bank would be willing to assist in some way. They asked if the bank would even be willing to sponsor the event. The answer was a resounding "Yes."
The first tournament was organized in 1999 and executed in January of 2000, and all Sequoyah County basketball teams were invited to participate, regardless of class size. The teams were evaluated, organized and seeded; brackets were developed, and a primary site and secondary sub-site were identified for the tournament. That first tournament was a great success, and every year since, local area teams, including Webbers Falls in previous years, and Stigler in recent years have competed for the trophies and accolades that accompany them.
Armstrong Bank meets every year with the coaches to plan and execute the tournament. Team rosters and photos are collected, programs are printed and distributed, free of charge. T-shirts are provided for all team members and cheerleaders every year, complete with the tournament logo as a memento of the event, free of charge. A hospitality room is provided at both tournament sites for officials, coaches and administrators at the schools with refreshments provided by Armstrong Bank. Brackets are displayed and updated after every game by the bank staff. Trophies for the winning teams are presented, compliments of Armstrong Bank. Bank employees volunteer their time to distribute programs, prepare food trays, serve food and maintain the hospitality rooms at both locations.
Sequoyah County area school superintendents met recently with representatives of Armstrong Bank to determine the official name for the annual area basketball tournament, changing it from the generic Sequoyah County Basketball Tournament to officially naming it "The Armstrong Bank Sequoyah County Area Classic," Schools and bank representatives (pictured above) present at the meeting were: Lucky McCrary, Superintendent of Gore Schools; Randy Wood, Superintendent of Roland Schools; Jody Webb, Regional President, Armstrong Bank; Larry Henson, Superintendent of Sallisaw Central Schools; Eric Riggs, Vice President/Branch Manager Armstrong Bank, Sallisaw; Larry Calloway, Superintendent of Gans Schools; Treye Girdner, Vice President/Branch Manager, Armstrong Bank, Muldrow; Scott Farmer, Superintendent of Sallisaw Schools; Victor Salcedo, Superintendent of Vian Schools; Ron Flanagan, Superintendent of Muldrow Schools; and Lee Bennett, Vice President/Branch Manager, Armstrong Bank, Vian.
Coaches, administrators and bank staff are currently preparing to launch the 16th annual Armstrong Bank Sequoyah County Area Classic. This year's primary site will be Sallisaw and the sub-site will be Stigler. The tournament dates will be Jan. 5 through 10.
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