Retail stores won't be the only high-traffic sites this Christmas season.
High School gymnasiums are going to be packed with players searching for tournament titles, as Columbia County prep squads will be competing in several holiday events.
Lakeside's Toya Coard, who is expected to be one of the top players in Columbia County this year, goes up against Harlem's Clare Hatcher during a recent game. Lakeside will play host to the Columbia County Christmas Tournament Dec. 21-22.
Photo by Mike Howell
The excitement starts this week with the Garden City Tip-Off Classic. The nine-team tournament is co-hosted by Augusta Preparatory Day School and Curtis Baptist School.
The Classic features a double-elimination format. Early-round play begins Thursday and continues Friday at both Curtis and Augusta Prep. Saturday's championship games are scheduled for 3 p.m. (girls) and 4:30 p.m. (boys) at Curtis Baptist's Donald E. Cheeks gymnasium. Consolation games will be played Saturday at Prep's Boardman Gymnasium.
"There's going to be 24 games to see in three days," said Kevin Long, Augusta Prep athletic director. "Holiday tournaments are fun, and they're great spectator events."
In keeping with the holiday spirit, Augusta Prep has given Augusta Christian Schools an early Christmas present - the former Augusta Preparatory Day School Holiday Jamboree moves to AC this year, and has been renamed the Augusta Christian Schools Christmas Classic.
"Everyone wanted to continue hosting the tournament; but it's hard to do right before the holidays every year so we decided to set up a rotation," Long said of the event, which will be played at other area schools in future years.
The ACS Christmas Classic will sport 12 teams (six girls and six boys) and is scheduled Dec. 20 through 22.
Columbia County's public school squads hit the court later this month in the Columbia County Christmas Tournament, which will be played at Lakeside High School on Dec. 21-22. The Greenbrier Lady Wolfpack and the Evans Knights are the defending champions.
When Christmas ends, the action continues, as the Harlem Bulldogs are entered in the Holiday Basketball Tournament at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center on Dec. 27-29.
Other than the opportunity to take home a trophy, prep teams use tournament play to stay sharp - all the string music in December could help players avoid hitting a sour note when region games resume after the Christmas break.
"Everyone likes to get involved in holiday tournaments, because December to January is a long time to go without playing a game," Long said.
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