Strand to host two-week holiday hoops-apalooza

Christmas Day is only eight days away, and you know what that means on the Grand Strand. Santa, lights, egg nog … yeah, all that too. But we’re talking about basketball.

The fortnight that surrounds Christmas Day is filled with high school basketball tournaments, turning the holidays into one big hoops-apalooza. The week before Christmas, the Panther Classic at Carolina Forest hosts 16 boys teams from the Southeast, while the Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center welcomes the same number of girls teams from along the East Coast.

The Dec. 20-22 Panther Classic has grown rapidly since launching in 2010, doubling the number of teams invited and dramatically improving the teams and talent level. This year’s field features local teams (host Carolina Forest, Carvers Bay, Conway and Myrtle Beach, Cathedral Academy, Lakewood, Low Country Leadership Charter, Bluffton and Christ Church from South Carolina; High Point Christian, Voyager Academy and Freedom Christian from North Carolina; Loudoun Valley from Virginia; South Miami from Florida; and East Hall from Georgia. The tourney tips at 10:30 a.m. the first two days and 9 a.m. in the final round for a full day and night of hoops.

The CBHI celebrates its 20th year with another strong field of teams – Brentwood (TN), Swansea (SC), Harris County (GA), Fayette County (GA), St. Francis (GA), Miami Sr. (FL); Northwest Guilford (NC), Franklin County (KY), Ferguson (FL), Wesleyan Christian (NC), Norcross (GA), Winder Barrow (GA), Neumann-Goretti (PA), Christ the King (NY), and hosts Myrtle Beach and Socastee (SC). The Carolinas Challenge also holds court during the tournament, featuring college teams. North Carolina opens five full days of play against Grambling at 2 p.m. on Dec. 19-23. Full brackets are available at www.beachballclassic.com.

On Dec. 21-23, the North Myrtle Beach boys and girls teams will host the Shootout by the Sea Tournament. This year’s girls bracket features AC Flora, Loris, JL Mann, Chantilly (VA), Christ Church, Batesburg-Leesville, and Wren. The boys field consists of Ridge View, Boiling Springs, Summerville, Hoggard (NC), John Champe (VA), St. James and Wren. For the full field and schedule, visit www.gonmbchiefs.com.

The hoops action continues after Christmas as the 36th Annual Beach Ball Classic takes the spotlight at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center Dec. 26-30. This year’s lineup features the nation’s No. 1-ranked team and player in past champion Montverde (FL) and Duke commit RJ Barrett, and the No. 2 player in the nation and in-state product Zion Williamson of Spartanburg Day. Other teams include Cox Mill (NC), Fairland (OH), Clark (NV), Imhotep (PA), Scott County (KY), Moeller (OH), Long Island Lutheran (NY), Lanett (AL), Bishop Gorman (NV), Lone Peak (UT), Dematha (MD) and Albany (NY), as well as local teams Myrtle Beach and Socastee. The full schedule is available at www.beachballclassic.com.

Photo by Prep Stars Media

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