On the Mark: TBT, Little League baseball and Dick Sturm: Column

Mark Martin
Special to Jackson Newspapers
Mark Martin

TBT SUCCESS: In case you missed The Basketball Tournament (TBT) in Charleston, let’s just say it was one great event.

It was high-level basketball at its finest.

A total of 16 teams assembled inside the Charleston Coliseum for the competition, which unfolded July 17-21.

Charleston was one of four regionals around the country, featuring players who have used up their college basketball eligibility.

Many of those players have tasted some time in the NBA, are a part of the NBA’s G-League or have both current and overseas experience.

Two of the teams in the tournament were West Virginia based.

Best Virginia, made up of former Mountaineer players, and Herd That, which consisted primarily of past Marshall performers, drew nice crowds for their games.

Best Virginia reached one of the two finals of the West Virginia Regional. Had Herd That won in its second game it would have made for an all-West Virginia final.

TBT is here to stay.

And here’s hoping it returns next summer to Charleston.

LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL: While there are now many, many baseball events for kids to choose from in the summer, nothing beats the beauty of Little League in my book.

Having the chance to call livestreaming telecasts of the West Virginia Little League State Tournament over the weekend reminded me of that as the games unfolded.

Lewisburg’s beautiful Hollowell Park served as the venue this year.

The first Little League State Tournament (11-12 year-olds) in the Mountain State unfolded in 1951.

Fairmont was the initial state champ and remains the only team in West Virginia history to reach the Little League World Series.

Locally, Ripley has had two state champs who advanced on to regional play (which is the step before the LLWS).

Butch Barnette’s 2004 team won the state title and moved on to a regional.

Chris Jordan’s 2010 would be the second to do so and actually played on ESPN.

Several players from those two teams would later enjoy outstanding high school careers. And some took their games to the next level in the collegiate ranks.

I just love the structure of Little League.

There’s still something pure and simple about its makeup.

In Lewisburg, I called four games (three of which were excellent with one going nine innings) and saw three home runs.

Those hitting homers received Dairy Queen coupons.

What’s not to love.

THINKING OF COACH DICK STURM: I wanted to extend a speedy recovery to former Ravenswood High School football coach Dick Sturm, who went through a heart procedure last week.

Sturm, according to son Steve, is now back at home and on the mend.

As Ravenswood’s head coach, Sturm led several teams to the Class AA playoffs. His 2010 team reached the Class AA state championship game and lost a tough encounter to Magnolia, who this year’s Red Devil team opens against.

Sturm was also an assistant on state championship winning teams of 1972 and 1976.

Before coming to Ravenswood, Sturm coached one season at Magnolia.

Sturm was a standout Red Devil athlete — a Calhoun County Red Devil athlete, that is.

He later played at Salem College, where he was a First Team All-West Virginia Conference football lineman.

Sturm is a member of the Salem Athletic Hall of Fame.

One of his former All-State players, Brett Rector, who was an outstanding quarterback, was recently named Salem’s head men’s basketball coach.

I’ve cherished my relationship the past several years with Coach Sturm.

A finer man you will not find.

Here’s hoping he is back in game shape by the time the 2021 football season arrives.