Hoop tourney attendance up
Charleston-area teams help boost gate at city's civic center

Associated Press
CHARLESTON -- High school and college basketball teams drew more fans to the state tournaments this year as ticket sales increased at least 8 percent.

The boys' high school tournament drew 71,981 fans, up 8.3 percent from 66,480 in 2003. Attendance at the girls' tournament jumped 10.9 percent, to 31,480 from 28,386 in 2003.

Individual ticket sales for the West Virginia Conference's men's and women's tournaments were 20 percent higher than 2003 sales.

The increased fan interest was a boon for the Charleston Civic Center, which depends on revenue from the March tournaments.

''(The tournaments) are really the most important events for us each year, financially,'' civic center General Manager John Robertson said.

He attributed the growth in part to the success of teams from the Kanawha Valley.

''We were fortunate this year to have teams that had a following,'' Robertson said.

In the boys' tournament, the Class AAA quarterfinals pitted Capital against St. Albans in a game that featured the state player of the year, St. Albans' Adam Williams.

''When we had Capital-St. Albans, you could see the sea of red,'' Robertson said.

Winfield fans turned out to see their teams captured both the boys' and girls' Class AA titles. Woodrow Wilson, which won the boys' Class AAA title, also drew a ''pretty good turnout,'' Robertson said.

The girls' tournament also featured Tennessee-bound Alexis Hornbuckle, who led South Charleston to the Class AAA title for the second consecutive tournament.

''Every single year the girls tournament has grown,'' Robertson said. ''We started with the girls tournament in 1983 and the first year we did it we had about 6,000 paid.

''We have more girls playing the sport and it's exciting to watch. Certainly this year we had several girls that were quite talented and highly publicized. I think that helped the turnout. I think it's going to continue to grow.''

In the WVIAC tournaments, the University of Charleston's and West Virginia State's women's teams both advanced to the semifinals. West Virginia State's men's team made it to the title game, where the Yellow Jackets were defeated by Alderson-Broaddus.

''The activity at the ticket window seemed to be more,'' Robertson said -- on Saturday evening for the men's and women's finals they ran out of tickets. "There was so much parity in the WVIAC, especially for the men, (that) may have encouraged some folks to come.''