Shootin’ the Stars: Holiday basketball tournaments a tradition that continues to keep on giving.

Shootin’ the Stars: Holiday basketball tournaments a tradition that continues to keep on giving.

By Mike Beas

One has little choice but to marvel at the all-encompassing nature of the Christmas season.

Think about it.

What other holiday is equipped with its own playlist of songs, loosens our collective belts with the ongoing consumption of homemade cookies and seems determined to consume more days of the calendar with each passing calendar year?

The month also feeds us a seemingly endless buffet line of girls and boys basketball tournaments.

One would think the deluge of such events would make for some Ho-Ho-Horrible hoops, though each seems to have its rightful place on the state’s hoops landscape.

It could be a three-teamer like the Barr-Reeve Classic (boys) where three games are shoehorned into a single day, or the Eastern Greene Tournament (girls) that incorporates numerous programs, Pools A through D, requires the use of two gymnasiums, and has its own 11th-place game.

Lumps of coal? There are none.

Every tourney, regardless of the invitees, is positive in the sense that players and coaches often are traveling to gymnasiums previously foreign to them and playing quality opponents they’ve only heard about.

Kids are out of school. Parents, too, are, in many cases, off work. A win-win.

Whiteland, for instance, sends its boys team to the Ray Furney Holiday Classic at Lawrenceburg on December 29-30. The Warriors face Connersville in the opening round and are scheduled to go up against West Morgan (Alabama) later in the day.

The girls squad hosts its own event a week earlier.

“I really want the coach’s input on scheduling, and I think you schedule for where your team is right now,” said Whiteland athletic director David Edens. “But I think if you can fit a two-day tournament into your schedule, it’s a good memory piece for kids.

“I don’t mandate that they do it, but I do encourage it. And in the basketball part of it, you have a chance to play teams you usually don’t play. And it’s another chance for kids to play in a tournament atmosphere.”

On December 22 alone, Lake Central, a school tucked away in the state’s northwest corner, makes the long drive to play at Bedford North Lawrence for a one-day showcase. The other invites were extended to Noblesville and Lawrence Central.

The Millers and Stars have won the past two Class 4A state titles, in 2022 and 2023, respectively, and will be favored to meet in the 8 o’clock championship game.

Another girl’s tourney that jumps out transpires two days after Christmas. The Ben Davis Classic features three of Indiana’s largest high schools (BD, Warren Central and Jeffersonville) along with Linton-Stockton, the latter of which boasts an enrollment that is a fraction of the others.

Maybe the Miners can pull off their own modern-day Milan Miracle. We’ll see.

A day after gutting out two games at the BNL tournament, Noblesville’s girls host their own single-day event, which brings Valparaiso, Norwell and Fort Wayne Snider to town.

Headliners in boys’ basketball include the Kokomo Tournament on December 22 (eight teams, including non-central Indiana types such as New Haven, South Bend Riley, Mishawaka and Jeffersonville), and the aforementioned Eastern Greene Tournament that scatters a total of 24 games across two days.

Moreover, the incentive to play college basketball has never been greater due to the destinations some of our Division-I women’s and men’s programs find themselves in.

The Purdue men played in Maui, the women in the Bahamas. Indiana’s men traveled to New York City, the women to California and, later, Florida.

They’re everywhere, those holiday tournaments, so get the popcorn ready.

Or is it cookies?

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