For 33 consecutive seasons, George Washington High School hosted a boys’ basketball tournament over the Christmas holidays. The Danville Register and Bee Holiday Shootout began in 1983 in the George Washington gymnasium and continued uninterrupted through 2015. Because of its popularity and continual sellouts, the tournament was moved to the Grant Center at Averett University in 2005. The tournament expanded again with the addition of Girls’ teams in 2014. Without a sponsor, the tournament was not held in 2016, but a one- year reboot in 2017 called the Holiday Basketball Showcase was re-instituted. In 2019, the renamed Harry Johnson Holiday Classic brought back many hours of excellent basketball and entertainment to the fans from Danville, Pittsylvania County, and the surrounding area. The Covid-19 crisis prevented the tournament from being held in 2020, but the Classic returned in 2021 and was one of the most exciting ever as Green Run defended their title with a close win over GW. The 2022 tournament promises to be just as entertaining, with 4 girls’s teams also competing for a championship.
In the very first tournament in 1983, George Washington played undefeated Gretna in the championship game. The Hawks were led by Ramsey Yeatts but were beaten by GW 38-34 in a defensive struggle. Barry Mayo netted 13 points in the lowest-scoring game in tournament history to earn the first MVP award. Host GW has dominated the tournament since its inception by winning 21 titles, including 9 consecutive championships from 1994 to 2002. Star players like JamesOn Curry from Eastern Alamance, the all-time single game scoring leader with 59 vs. Chatham in 2001, and former Dan River standouts and current NFL players Trey, Tremaine, and Terrell Edmunds, are just some of the great athletes that have appeared in the tournament. Girls’s teams were added in 2014 and GW won the first two championships, with William Fleming bringing home the title in 2017. With two strong fields, including local heavyweights GW and Tunstall, the 2022 Harry Johnson Classic should be one of the best ever!