During the Christmas break, two Columbia County schools plan to play host to basketball tournaments – one a long-time favorite, and another new this year.
The inaugural Augusta Christian Christmas Classic starts Monday at the USC Aiken Convocation Center.
The tournament features 16 teams – eight boys and eight girls – from as far away as Tennessee and Florida.
Augusta Christian once helped organize the Garden City Classic with Augusta Prep and Westminster. But the school relinquished those duties and has been traveling to other tournaments during the holiday season for the past three years, said Athletic Director Marty Griffin.
Tired of the travel, Griffin said they chose this year to play host to a new tournament and invite some of the top private school programs in the Southeast.
Boys teams playing in the tournament include Augusta Christian; Westminster; Davidson Day School, Davidson, N.C.; Mt. Vernon Presbyterian, Atlanta; A.C. Flora High School, Columbia, S.C.; Evangel Christian, Montgomery, Ala.; Christian Academy, Knoxville, Tenn.; and, Father Lopez High School, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Girls teams include Augusta Christian; Atlanta Girls School; Davidson Day School; Mt. Vernon; Spruce Creek, Port Orange, Fla.; Heathwood Hall, Columbia, S.C.; Franklin Road Academy, Nashville, Tenn.; and, Hilton Head Christian, Hilton Head, S.C.
Tournament play starts at 9 a.m. Monday. It concludes Wednesday with championship games that evening.
Meanwhile, Evans High School will hold its sixth annual tournaments after Christmas.
Evans High basketball coach Kevin Kenny has organized the tournaments, with the varsity playing at Evans High Dec. 27-29 and the junior varsity tournament at Evans Middle Dec. 27-28.
Featured teams in the varsity tournament are Evans, Harlem, Cross Creek, Aquinas, Warren County, Lincoln County, Washington-Wilkes boys and Lakeside girls.
Junior varsity squads include Cross Creek, Evans, North Augusta and Westside.
“We have a pretty good field,” Kenny said. “There are some good teams in there we’re excited about playing.”
Kenny said the tournament gives area teams a chance to keep playing without having to travel far and to “tune-up” before region contests start the following week.
“We don’t want (our players) sitting around on Christmas,” Kenny said.
Play starts at 10 a.m. Dec. 27 for the varsity tournament and concludes with championship games at 7 p.m. (girls) and 8:30 p.m. (boys) on Dec. 29.
For the junior varsity tournament, play starts at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 27.
Augusta Christian Christmas Classic
Evans High Varsity Tournament
Junior Varsity Tournament