Evans High School's boys and girls basketball squads played their last game before semester exams on Dec. 13. Their first game upon returning from Christmas break is Jan. 4.
With only practices scheduled in between, it would be tough not to develop some rust over more than three weeks without a game.
That's where holiday tournaments come in.
"I think the kids would rather play than practice during Christmas," Evans boys coach Kevin Kenny said. "It definitely helps."
Evans played host to the fifth annual Robolli's Christmas Classic this past week.
This year's tournament featured boys and girls squads from Evans, Greenbrier, Lakeside, Grovetown, Harlem, Cross Creek and Warren County. Also participating were Washington-Wilkes' boys team and Aquinas' girls team.
In addition to helping teams maintain momentum through the holiday season, Kenny said there are several other benefits to participating.
Teams are able to match up with opponents they might not normally face. Arguably more important is the fact that it prepares teams for the rigors of playing on three consecutive days, as they have to do during their region tournament.
"Conditioning-wise, in the third game of a region tournament, a lot of it's mental, especially if it's the championship game," Kenny said. "When you've had two tough games in a row like that, it's tough to come back the third night."
For the first time this year, Evans got some help from a venue standpoint, as Greenbrier served as a second tournament location.
Instead of eight games being held all day for three days in a row at Evans, Tuesday and Wednesday featured only afternoon and night games at both schools, while Thursday's final day featured a full day of games at Evans.
"I approached Kevin with the idea of co-hosting it. I thought it was an advantage for both of us," Greenbrier boys coach Casey Heckathorn said. "It meant we could get a couple extra home games. Otherwise, we play only 10 home games, and we wanted more than that."
For Grovetown boys coach Bill Madigan, the tournament provides one more chance for his team to gain more rhythm ahead of the region schedule.
"It helps, especially for us," he said. "We're still trying to get to know each other, and with me coming on in August and not having them in the summer, it's given us an opportunity to play three more games against good opponents."
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