SOUTH HOLLAND | Maybe one of these days Anthony Rainey's Benjamin Mays Academy junior high basketball team will finally win the Seton Academy Sting Classic.
For this year, however, Rainey had already conceded it may not come to pass.
"We don't have the big kids as some of these other schools," Rainey said of Mays, which is located in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, "but this gives our kids a chance to get out of the city. Some of our kids have never heard of Seton Academy, or even of South Holland.
"We view this as a fun tournament, but it also gives them a sense of where they stand ... what they need to work on. We normally don't get to face this type of competition."
Rainey is the boys basketball coach and Dean of Athletics at Mays, which has a little more than 300 students.
"And most of them are girls," Rainey said.
Rainey coached varsity basketball for 29 years at Luther South High School, where he was also the athletic director.
"I retired from (high school coaching) because I wanted to stay married," Rainey said. "For these players, you've got to make things a little more simple, and obviously it's not as intense.
"In high school, it was six days a week for practice, not including the games. For us, we only practice twice a week, allowing our kids to participate in other (extracurricular) activities."
The annual Sting Classic, the third organized by Seton Academy athletic director Deon Tolliver, attract 24 teams from Chicago and its suburbs, as well as one team (Roosevelt) from Indiana.
"The word is getting out," Tolliver said. "This is our biggest tournament, up from 16 from last year.
"This is a good way to market our school."
This year's tournament attracted some of the top junior high programs in the area, including Beasley Academy Center, which produced Chicago Bulls superstar and NBA MVP Derrick Rose.
In the end, Beasley finished runner-up in the "Classic" to champion Ariel Elementary Community Academy, of Chicago.