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HOMETOWN SHOWDOWN: Decades-long rivalry returns to the City of Palms Classic

Basketball tournament at FSW brings top teams from U.S., SWFL to Fort Myers
Posted at 1:36 PM, Dec 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-20 21:00:33-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The City of Palms Classic Basketball Tournament is back and celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Schools from all over the US come together and play in a knockout tournament until Saturday, December 23.

After years of not playing one another, Bishop Verot High School and Fort Myers High School will take the court Wednesday night at 8:30 in a rivalry game at the Credit Union Suncoast Arena.

"It's like the Gators playing FSU," said Phyllis Boyar, City of Palms Classic volunteer.

A decades-long rivalry that is bringing the community together.

"The Fort Myers, Bishop Verot, rivalry is something that means a lot to everybody on both sides of the line," said Matt Herting, Head Coach of Bishop Verot High School.

"We talked a little bit about what's going on, a little bit of what this game means to the area, the rivalry, and I think they know about it," said Keeth Jones, Head Coach of Fort Myers High School. "I think they're really looking forward to playing in this tournament in this venue."

Mary Schaack, Executive Director of City of Palms Classic, tells Fox 4 Bishop Verot and Fort Myers were the first local teams to play each other 50 years ago when it all began.

"We always have a local high school playing in this tournament, even in the main bracket," said Schaack. "It just gives exposure to some of these kids who may not be sitting and playing in front of NBA scouts, like they thought in their lives, you know, or being in front of the college coaches that they have."

"The future of the NBA on display," as Schaack calls it. She notes the tournament has hosted 8 first-round draft picks and counting.

"The number of people that it's brought in; the names; the stars that have played here; the star coaches that come to watch and recruit; the NBA scouts, just energize the community for the youth," said Herting.