Basketball Friday Night celebrates 100th episode

Basketball Friday Night celebrated its 100th episode this week by making an announcement for their viewers who enjoy other sports. The show introduced a new spin-off, Baseball Friday Night, which will start when baseball season begins.

Fred Damron, the creator of Basketball Friday Night, said he knew the show would eventually reach its 100th episode, and he is happy with how far the series has come.

“It’s just grown and grown every year,” Damron said. “It’s remarkable. I believed we would get to 100, and like I said, we’ve grown. We’ve collected over 19,000 scores over the years.”

With hosts Ryan Epling, Ric Morrone, Joe Linville and Bill Cornwell, the show covers both men’s and women’s basketball scores for the high schools throughout the state. Epling said he finds it amazing that the show has made it to 100 episodes, and the love of basketball has never waivered.

“It’s hard to believe we are to 100 already, but here we are still going strong,” he said. “We were happy to get episode one off the ground, but the crew behind the scenes, they set up stuff for us and make it so easy to do the show.”

Basketball Friday Night comes to life thanks to the help of anywhere between seven to 20 people at any given time, according to the show’s director Marcus Constantino. He said there may only be four or five people on the television, but the show has help from multiple people behind the scenes.

“For every person on the set, there are three more in the back making sure we get every score in the state,” Constantino said. “It’s really a team effort to make it through three hours every week, but we’ve gotten it down to a science and it’s actually really fun to put it together.”

Constantino also said he was happy about the 100th episode coming to fruition, and he is happy the show has been able to celebrate everyone.

“Time has really flown by,” he said. “Basketball Friday Night is a celebration of high school basketball all across the state. We don’t want to forget about anyone based on their gender or where they’re at or how good they are. We want to celebrate every accomplishment everywhere in the state.”

While Damron, Constantino and the hosts have been with the production from the beginning, Basketball Friday Night also welcomes newcomers, including Landon Mitchell, a senior broadcast journalism and video production major who started as an intern for the program in December 2019.

Mitchell said even though he is new, he has already learned of the importance of Basketball Friday Night to people.

“One thing I’ve learned is that a lot of people care about high school basketball,” he said. “It’s a lot bigger than I thought it was. After becoming a part of the Basketball Friday Night family, I’ve realized how much the 100th episode is a milestone for this.”

Damron also thanked Marshall University and said the show would not be possible without it.

“We couldn’t do it without Marshall,” he said. “This is the perfect location; they have the gear. Everybody here has the passion, but without the gear, we couldn’t do it.”

The 100th episodes featured on-set guest speakers, including Dean of the College of Arts and Media Wendell Dobbs, director of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism Janet Dooley and Marshall professor and director of The Carter G. Woodson Lyceum Burnis Morris. The show also spoke to basketball coaches on the phone, including Governor Jim Justice.

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected].