JACKSON, Tenn. - 11/16/2010 - The Jackson Rotary Club will host their 17th Annual Jackson Rotary Classic, and for the eighth straight season, Union University’s Fred DeLay Gymnasium will be the site. The Rotary Classic begins Thursday, Nov. 18 and goes through Saturday, Nov. 20.
The Jackson Rotary Classic will benefit the Madison Haywood Developmental Services, Youth Town of Tennessee, and will also fund scholarships for students from each of the high schools in Madison County.
Year after year, the Jackson Rotary Classic has featured some of the NAIA’s best talent in women’s basketball. The fans of West Tennessee and many from across the nation often get a preview of the same teams that make their way back to Jackson in March for the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Tournament at Oman Arena.
In fact, each of the last seven NAIA women’s basketball national champions played in the Jackson Rotary Classic the year they won the title (Southern Nazarene 2004, Union 2005, 2006, Lambuth 2007, Vanguard 2008, Union 2009, 2010).
In each season since the classic expanded to six teams in 2003, the entire field of six is ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA preseason rankings. This season, the classic boasts five teams in the top 10, with all six in the top-25 of the preseason rankings. This year’s field includes No. 1 Union (Tenn.) University, No. 2 Azusa Pacific (Calif.) University, No. 5 Vanguard (Calif.) University, No. 8 Oklahoma Baptist University, No. 9 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University and No. 19 Bethel (Tenn.) University. This is the first season for Bethel, who replaces Lambuth (Tenn.) University as one of the local schools.
All six teams in this year’s classic participated in the 2010 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Tournament in Jackson last March. This year’s Rotary Classic will produce a rematch of the 2010 NAIA National Title game between Union and Azusa Pacific. Union went on to win their fifth national title and fourth in the past six seasons last year. Azusa Pacific advanced to their first title game. Vanguard advanced to the quarterfinals last season, while Bethel, Freed-Hardeman and Oklahoma Baptist each recorded first round wins, before being knocked out in the second round.
The Rotary Classic field could be on display again in March of 2011 as these teams work to get back to Jackson for the national tournament. This year’s Rotary Classic field has combined for 77 total national tournament appearances, posting a combined record of 123-71 (.643). The field has advanced to 20 semifinals appearances (Union 11, Vanguard 4, Azusa Pacific 2, Freed-Hardeman 2, Oklahoma Baptist 1). Included in the 20 trips to the semifinals, the field has also produced six national champions (Union 5, Vanguard 1) and three national runner-up finishes (Union 2, Azusa Pacific 1).
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