The Christmas presents are unwrapped and Santa is well on his way back to the North Pole — it’s back to the grind.
It’s an annual tradition to bombard the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day with a plethora of holiday tournaments, and 2014 is no different.
Nine of the 10 Greater Alton basketball teams will compete on the hard court in tournaments throughout the southern half of the state, while the Alton Redbird and Roxana Shells wrestling teams will join them. The AHS grapplers will participate in the 53rd annual William “Red” Schmitt Holiday Tournament in Granite City.
Starting with the Redbirds on the mat, Alton finished fourth in the prestigious 25-team tournament in 2013, the tournament named for the longtime Warriors’ coach, 1940 AHS grad and recent Alton Athletics Hall of Fame inductee. Phyllip DeLoach and Q’iante Wagner both won championships at the tourney last year and hope to repeat.
Good luck to the Birds because Granite City doesn’t play; the team that finishes last gets booted out of the tournament. The William “Red” Schmitt Holiday Tournament will take place on Monday and Tuesday.
Roxana will also be in action Monday and Tuesday at the STM New Years Challenge at the Danville Civic Center. The tournament is comprised strictly of Class 1A schools. The Shells finished 13th there last year.
As for hoops, there will be plenty. Starting today, the Civic Memorial boys’ battle Dupo at noon and the Marquette Catholic boys’ face Waterloo at 3 p.m. in the Freeburg/Columbia Holiday Tournament at Freeburg High School. The East Alton-Wood River boys’ play Mount Olive at 3:30 p.m. today in the Carlinville Holiday Tournament at Carlinville High School and the Roxana Shells get two games, Carterville at 10:30 a.m. and Olney at 4 p.m. in the Duster Thomas Hoops Classic at Pinckneyville.
The CM girls’ take on host Jersey at 4:30 p.m. in the Jerseyville Holiday Tournament. Marquette’s girls are in the Lebanon Tournament today while EA-WR’s ladies are up against Nokomis at 2 p.m. in the Carlinville Tourney at the middle school gym.
The Duster Thomas Classic wraps up on Saturday, while the others will include Saturday, Monday and Tuesday contests.
The Explorer boys’ will have their hands full in Freeburg as the three-time defending tournament champions. Last season Deion Lavender helped lead Marquette to a 55-44 win over Waterloo in the finals. The Explorers are the third seed this year. Southwestern is the No. 1 seed, while Columbia slides in at No. 2.
Red-hot sophomore Allie Troeckler and the Eagle girls’ will look to repeat as the champs in Jerseyville, too.
The CM and Roxana boys’ will look to build on their fifth-place finishes in their respective tournaments in 2013.
Finally, Alton’s boys and girls get going in their tournaments.
The AHS girls travel to Jefferson City, Mo., for the State Farm Holiday Hoops Invitational to start at 4 p.m. Saturday against Columbia-Hickman. The grueling 16-team tournament will be a huge challenge for the Redbirds. All of their games will take place at Helias High School, with the event continuing with games on Sunday and Monday.
Nothing new for the Alton boys’ — they are back on familiar ground at the 72nd annual Centralia Holiday Tournament on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Redbirds will look to wash the bad taste out of their mouth from losing in the finals against the host Orphans and former AHS head coach Lee Bennett in 2013.
Carlos Anderson, Bryan Hudson, Darrius Edwards and company will begin their tourney at 10 a.m. Monday against Chicago Harlan High School.
If the Birds get to the finals this season, fans can come ring in the new year with them, as the championship game is scheduled for 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
So if you have some free time from work between Christmas and New Year’s Day, put down the cookies, quit playing with your new toys and go check out some local hoops and wrestling. There is also the Collinsville/Schnucks Holiday Tournament for the boys’ and the Edwardsville Holiday Classic for the girls’ locally to visit and see some good basketball. Happy viewing.