Holiday Classic tournament expects to be big draw for Destin

Matt Algarin

Organizers from the inaugural Destin Holiday Classic basketball tournament say more than 13,000 tickets have already been requested for the event.

"This is going to be a great event for us," Tournament Director Scott McKinney said at Monday night's City Council meeting.

Showcasing girls high school basketball, the Destin Holiday Classic is slated for Dec. 27-30 at the Destin Community Center. The tournament will feature eight of the top girls basketball programs from seven states across the South.

Fort Walton Beach High School will serve as the host school for the event, which will also feature teams from Anacoco, La.; New Site, Miss; Carthage, Tenn; Atlanta, Ga.; Dothan, Ala; Corbin, Ky; and Paxton, Fla.

McKinney told city leaders that the Community Center was the perfect venue for the tournament, as they could showcase all of the beauty of Destin.

"These teams are going to be staying in Destin, they are eating in Destin," he said. "We wanted to keep them in Destin."

Proceeds from the tournament will be used to benefit deserving young ladies that may not have the funding to go to college, McKinney said. The goal is to be able to award two scholarships each year to a young lady, whether or not she plays basketball.

For more information on the event or to purchase pre-tournament passes, call McKinney at 850-240-0693.

City Councilman Jim Bagby, who also serves as the director of the Walton County Tourist Development Council, liked the idea and suggested his Okaloosa counterparts should "stroke a check" for $50,000 to support the event.

“It would be a lot more return on investment supporting this than a holiday campaign,” he said, referring to the Okaloosa TDC’s Very Emerald Christmas campaign.