Some of the area’s best ninth-grade and junior-varsity squads will converge at Bradwell Institute, Lewis Fraiser Middle School and Snelson-Golden Middle School on Saturday to tip-off the 20th annual Donell Woods Memorial Tournament.
Woods was a 1957 graduate of the original Liberty County High during the days of segregation. Later, Woods coached football at his alma mater from 1962 until the county’s schools were integrated in 1972.
Woods then served as an assistant football coach and head basketball coach at Bradwell Institute from 1972 until his death from lung cancer in 1980.
Woods won the Hinesville Officials Association Official of the Year award and twice was named Coach of the Year by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association.
The football stadium at the new Liberty County High School bears his name.
The Donell Woods Memorial Basketball Tournament was created in 1992 by then-BI-basketball coach Willie Graham as a way to keep Woods’ legacy alive for future athletes.
“Donell Woods was my first cousin,” said Lady Tiger basketball coach Faye Baker, who organized the tournament. “He was coaching here at Bradwell when I was a student here. …He succumbed to cancer at the early age of 40 and I remember that vividly. This tournament is very near and dear to my heart.”
Baker said the Woods family created a committee that raises funds for the annual event to offset the costs of the officials and other expenses.
“It is a tournament for sub-varsity teams,” Baker said. “We have eight girls’ teams and eight boys’ teams (a combination of ninth grade and JV squads) from around the local area. For those kids it gives them a tournament atmosphere that they normally don’t get. It’s their day to shine.”
Teams from Glynn County, Camden County and Statesboro are expected to participate.
Baker said the Statesboro squad is the defending champions.
Admission is free and the games start at 9 a.m. at all three schools.
For a list of the brackets visit: http://www.hometeamsonline.com/photos/htosports/BRADWELL/Tournament_Rules_for_Donell_Woods.pdf