Hoopsters keep close, go far for tournament play
by Emily Horos
December 27, 2013 12:37 AM | 1551 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
River Ridge’s Nick Masterson (11) puts a shot up against a Cherokee player last week. The Knights and Warriors will be staying relatively close to home for their post-Christmas tournaments.
<BR>Staff photo by Todd Hull
River Ridge’s Nick Masterson (11) puts a shot up against a Cherokee player last week. The Knights and Warriors will be staying relatively close to home for their post-Christmas tournaments.
Staff photo by Todd Hull
For many students, the holiday season means time off from school, spent with family.

But for a group of coaches and athletes, it means time for basketball.

Five of the six high schools in Cherokee County will be participating in at least one holiday tournament during the break from classes. Woodstock will continue to hold practices, but both of its coaches opted to play in Thanksgiving tournaments, as opposed to events during the winter break.

“We played a lot of games early just because I knew we were young,” Woodstock girls coach Julie Crowe said. “We played a Thanksgiving tournament instead of a Christmas one this year. Just doing something different. I felt that was what would help us the most.”

Those teams playing in holiday tournaments will play anywhere from three to four games in as many days. Some teams — the Cherokee boys and girls, as well as the Sequoyah girls — are staying relatively close to home for a tournament at Pickens. Others, such as Etowah and Creekview, are making trips to Florida to test their skills.

Cherokee boys coach Roger Kvam said he doesn’t think that his team needs to travel too far to find challenging opponents.

The Warriors, who won nine of their first 10 games to start the season, began their stint in the Pickens Holiday Classic on Thursday against Northview. Also on the schedule for the weekend are Our Lady of Mercy and North Forsyth.

“It’s lucky of the draw,” Kvam said. “I’m not sure how good those teams are, but we scouted them all. I know Northview has some pretty good size, and for us with no size, that always leaves a pretty big question. Our small guys do a good job of playing big instead. We do a good job rebounding and getting scrappy.”

The Cherokee girls will be playing at the same event. On the schedule for the Lady Warriors are North Atlanta, Cartersville and North Forsyth.

The Sequoyah girls opened the Pickens tournament Thursday against Collins Hill.

Coach Derrick DeWitt said he was hoping to draw a few stronger teams in the tournament, but any time they play new opponents can be good.

“I would have liked to have played North Atlanta or Northview to challenge us, but we will see what happens,” he said. “You never know what you are going to get a lot of times.”

While the Sequoyah girls are at Pickens, the boys will be playing in a tournament at Lumpkin County, which tips off today and continues Saturday and Monday. The Chiefs will play Mountain View in an opening round-game today at 11:30 a.m.

River Ridge will be taking both its teams to the St. Pius Christmas Classic, which also begins today and continues into Saturday. Both squads will face the host team in the opening round.

Girls coach Jason Taylor said playing at St. Pius is just part of preparing his team for the subregion schedule, which begins in January.

“St. Pius is probably one of the best teams in the state in any classification at their place (today),” Taylor said. “I don’t know who we have in the second round, but it’s definitely going to be a tough schedule.”

The Lady Knights will play one of two out-of-state visitors — Archbishop Carroll (D.C.) or Mother of Mercy (Ohio) — in their second game.

After their game with St. Pius, the River Ridge boys will face either McGill-Toolen (Ala.) or Archbishop Alter (Ohio) on Saturday.

The two River Ridge programs are the only entrants in the St. Pius tournament not from Catholic high schools.

The Etowah girls traveled to the Hilton Head (S.C.) Holiday Classic, which began Thursday and will continue through Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Etowah boys will be taking a trip to the Rock Holiday Classic at Windemere Prep in Orlando, Fla.

The eight-team tournament begins today and continues through Monday. Participating teams are traveling from as far away as Cincinnati.

Etowah is scheduled to play Hedgesville (W.Va.) in today’s opener.

The Creekview boys will also be traveling to Florida. The Grizzlies will compete in the KSA Christmas Tournament, which begins tomorrow and continues through Monday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Disney World.

Creekview will face Central Bucks East (Pa.) in today’s first round before meeting either of two opponents from California or New Jersey.

The Creekview girls will stay much closer to home for a tournament at Duluth, drawing Centennial today and Brookwood on Saturday.
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