Niles' Ron Price and Warren G. Harding's Andy Vlajkovich saw their boys basketball teams wage an epic battle last season with the Raiders coming away with a 65-61 victory in Warren.
This time, the two are the final game of Saturday's second annual Hope Classic: High School Basketball Showcase at the Struthers Fieldhouse.
"I know our kids have a ton of respect for them," Vlajkovich said. "We know what they did to us last year. We were lucky to come away with that win, but we haven't forgotten. We certainly have all the respect in the world for the way they play."
The Hope Classic is presented by the Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, an entirely volunteer-based organization that raises money to benefit the lives of chronically and/or terminally ill children.
"Our entire program is really honored," Vlajkovich said. "I think the Hope Foundation does a great job. I think Anthony (Spano, the director and founder) does a great job with the organization. Obviously, it's for a great cause and that's something. Anytime you can combine high school basketball with a cause like that, it's a win-win for everybody involved."
"It's a great cause. They're going to do a heckuva job. They've done a real nice job promoting it," Price said.
Second annual Hope Classic Basketball Showcase
Saturday's games begin at 3 p.m.; next game will begin 15 minutes after conclusion of game before
GAME 1: West Branch vs. Boardman girls
GAME 2: Denver East vs. Struthers girls
GAME 3: LaBrae vs. Cardinal Mooney boys
GAME 4: Warren G. Harding vs. Niles boys
There are three other games prior to the Niles-WGH matchup.
To start things off at 3 p.m., West Branch, featuring Youngstown State commit Melinda Trimmer, will take on Boardman. Following that game, the Struthers Lady Wildcats will welcome the Denver East Angels, who travelled more than 1,400 miles to play three games, including the Classic; on Thursday at Boardman and Friday at Ursuline. The Angels are coached by Youngstown East graduate Dwight Berry.
The boys' slate features four of the best teams in the Mahoning Valley. Game 3 of the day, which will begin 15 minutes after the final girls' contest, will pin Cardinal Mooney against LaBrae. This game features the up-and-coming Cardinals, who won a district title in 2013. The Vikings, who feature Davidson commit and two-time All-Ohio player Peyton Aldridge, advanced to the Division III state semifinals in 2013.
Pre-sale tickets are currently on sale for $12 (floor seats, online only) and $6 for general admission. General admission tickets also can be purchased at all the schools participating in the event. Additional information can be obtained by calling each schools' athletic departments.
A portion of the proceeds from each ticket purchased at the schools goes back to the school. Ticket prices the day of the event are $15 and $7, respectively, while one ticket secures admission for all four games. Additional information on tickets can be obtained by going to www.hopemv.org.