If you build it, they will come.
I'm not talking about a baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field - like in the 1989 film Field of Dreams - but a high school basketball gym in the middle of New Castle. Long before the movie was released, before Kevin Costner became a household name and before the if-you-build-it line became a catch phrase, there was a gymnasium built.
And after it was built, they did come.
Fans came from all around to watch the best high school teams in the state play in the 6,000-seat gym. It was built in 1963, a year after the Henry County Wildcats won the 8th Region Tournament for the first and last time, and hosted big games and big tournaments, including the Henry County Invitational Tournament each year.
The HCIT was first played in January of 1963, just one week after construction was completed on the new gym. It was put to the test that opening week, and it passed.
Teams continued to come back each year - the gym was later named the Roy L. Winchester Gym and eventually started to host the 8th Region Tournament, as it still does.
Now, after a drought that fizzled out the HCIT in the late-1990s, the HCIT is making a strong run at becoming what it once was - a big-time tournament in one of the best high school gyms in Kentucky.
This years edition of the HCIT started Tuesday afternoon and lasts through Friday. Teams include Shelby County (4-0 record), Oldham (5-1), Ashland Blazar (4-1), Sayre (5-2), South Oldham (4-3), Henry County (3-3), Grant County (2-4) and Spencer County (1-5). All teams will play three games in the four-day, 12-game tournament, including one either Tuesday or Wednesday, plus one Thursday and one Friday.
"This is the most loaded tournament we've had since I've been here," said Henry coach Jason Holland, who got the HCIT rolling again when he took over the Wildcats three years ago. "It's a great tournament, and it's got a little better each year."
It might even give the HCIT tournaments from years ago a run for their money.
Shelby and Sayre opened the HCIT Tuesday afternoon, and was followed by Oldham versus the host Wildcats. Ashland, South Oldham, Grant and Spencer played Wednesday. And depending on the outcome of those opening-round games, the matchups will be ready for Thursday and Friday with four games each day. The team that goes a perfect 3-0 in the single-elimination style (with consolation games) tournament will be declared the champion.
In last year's HCIT, Henry finished fourth overall with a win over Waggener and losses to North Oldham and South Oldham.
So, the stage is set and the teams are ready to roll. It's time to watch some exciting basketball.
Tommie Kendall can be reached at sports.hclocal.com.