The history of the All-Star Classic

Elijah Pepper (left) and Corbin Christensen (right) in the 2018 All-Star Classic. Photo by Amanda Ray/Yakima Herald Republic

Now known as the SWX All-Star Classic, the series was originally called the Newspaper Classic and was conceived in 1994 by the sports department editors of the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Tri-City Herald. It was considered the grand finale to the high school season and featured one boys game and one girls game with 10 players on each roster. The series pitted the top players from the greater Yakima area against the top players from the greater Tri-Cities for bragging rights.

In 2000, the name was changed to the Media Classic to gain radio and television involvement and the series was expanded to give more athletes a chance to play. The all-stars from the larger Class 4A and 3A schools would have their own game. So would the all-stars from the smaller Class 2A, 1A and B schools. The change allowed greater player participation with 20 boys and girls athletes from each area chosen to play. It also was more fun for fans as they could watch the players from all classifications play at the same venue and enjoy an afternoon of fun basketball with the best athletes in the area.

However the athletes all wanted to play together and not be separated by class. So, in 2004, the format was modified once again and returned to one boys game and one girls game with all classifications playing together. The rosters were expanded to 15 players and the quarters were extended to 10 minutes to allow maximum participation. A three-point shooting contest was also added at halftime.

Marissa Cortes (left) and Alyssa Agundis (right) in the 2018 All-Star Classic. Photo by Amanda Ray/Yakima-Herald Republic

The games continued until 2015 when the newspapers’ changed their focus and no longer had the resources to plan the games.

After a two-year absence, Jeff Morrow and Parker Hodge, two former Herald employees who had together planned the games for over a decade, decided to revive the series and partnered with the staff at KNDU/SWX to televise them.

The excitement about the rebirth of the series was evident as 1,100 fans packed into the Kamiakin High School gym in 2018 and had the chance to see the most talented players from the Mid-Columbia and Yakima Valley play together on one floor — often for the first time.

The proceeds of the game are always donated to a charity of the planner’s choice. In 2021, the benefactors were the YMCA of the Greater Tri-Cities and the Kamiakin dance team. The games have generated over $20,000 for local charities in the history of the series.

While Jeff and Parker have handed the coordination of the games off to SWX television, they both remain supporters of the series and Parker remains the statistician and historian with record books, statistics and previous player selections available on this site.