THE CLASSIC HISTORY
THE CLASSIC HISTORY
In December of 1981, the inaugural ‘Damien Cage Classic’ first took place. At the time Ray Plutko, then Commissioner of the CIF was a part of the Damien Booster Club, as three of his sons played basketball and are alumni here at Damien. He had the idea to start a basketball tournament and Ray served as the original tournament director. At the time Coach Mike LeDuc was in his 3rd year as Head Basketball Coach here at Damien.
That first year was a 16 team format and saw South Pasadena defeat Damien in the final game 57-51. The ‘Cage Classic’ continued until 1994 which ended a 13 year run of having the tournament.
In January of 2016, the idea floated around to resurrect the original tournament. The idea was to create an opportunity for quality teams to compete against quality opponents in a first class setting that was affordable to the schools without the need to travel overnight. A group of basketball enthusiasts met and a committee was formed and meet regularly to organize and plan this event. In trying to keep a little of the history and also recognizing that it has been 35 years since its beginning, the tournament was renamed ‘The Classic at Damien” with a 48 team, 3 division format. The tournament featured some of the finest high school basketball programs in California, Nevada, and Arizona. We utilized 4 gymnasiums at 3 sites, Damien HS, San Dimas HS, and Life Pacific College. Damien HS invested a significant amount of time and money to renovate the old main gym to serve as a host gym for the Silver Division. We were very fortunate that Mark Christopher Auto Center and Brandblack agreed to be our title sponsors in 2016. The tournament drew over 20,000 spectators and was widely recognized as the premier high school Basketball tournament in California in its inaugural year. Mater Dei defeated Damien in the Championship game to win the Gold Division in the first “Classic at Damien”. Vista San Diego and Hesperia were the winners of the Silver and Bronze Divisions respectfully.
Now in its fifth year, ‘The Classic’ has made a name for itself on the West Coast as the premiere high school event. With each year the event grows and draws more attention within the basketball community...the History of “The Classic” lives on…