The Royal 8 Hardwood Classic
The Royal 8 Hardwood Classic is the creation of former Anderson High School Athletic Director Rich Neumann (1992-1995). A Bloomfield, New Jersey native, Neumann played in the Essex County High School Basketball Tournament which will be played for the 68th time in 2014. As a teacher and coach at Whippany Park (NJ) High School in 1975, Neumann founded the Morris County (NJ) Soccer Coaches Association and Tournament in 1975. The Morris County Boys Soccer Tournament just crowned its 37th champion during the 2012 season.
Most, if not all, New Jersey counties now have their own county tournaments in several sports and Neumann often wondered why Ohio counties did not as well. He also felt strongly that Cincinnati should have a signature high school basketball tournament of its very own. During the summer of 2011, Neumann began the process that has evolved into what he hopes will become an iconic and evergreen Cincinnati high school basketball classic – the Royal 8 Hardwood Classic!
Neumann met with several local high school coaches to explore the best way to create such an event. It became apparent that for a variety of reasons it would be problematic to develop a Hamilton County or Greater Cincinnati basketball tournament as a stand alone event given the limitation on the number of games schools can play and the need to be granted a sanction for such a tournament from the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
However, when the maximum number of regular season games was increased by the OHSAA from 20 to 22 effective beginning the 2012-13 season an opportunity presented itself. What evolved is an eight team tournament in which each team is guaranteed three regular season games with winners playing winners and losers playing losers with one team emerging as the undefeated (3-0) champion.
The next step was to find a venue and co-host of the tournament and in their first meeting, Neumann and Fairfield High School Athletic Director Mark Harden quickly realized that they shared the same goal – to create a first class, signature event for Cincinnati high school basketball.
Neumann and Harden filled the inaugural field with little difficulty and secured commitments from Anderson, Elder, host Fairfield, Lakota West, St. Xavier and Withrow. The addition of title sponsor LaRosa’s and presenting sponsor Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine indicates the value and high level of interest placed on and generated by this unique event.
The Second Annual LaRosa’s Royal 8 Hardwood Classic field is led by defending champion Lakota West and runner up Withrow. All other participants from the inaugural event return – Anderson,Turpin, Elder, host Fairfield and St. Xavier – except Madeira which has been replaced by Covington Catholic.