Santa may have to wait a bit longer until his big night, but not the Christmas basketball tournaments. Some debut as early as Saturday.
The Grant andJacobs boys tournaments, for instance, both feature Lake County teams and will begin on Saturday, then break for Christmas and resume on Dec. 26.
By then, the Mundelein boys will be soaking up the California sun in San Diego.
The Mustangs have had a long tradition of playing at the Jacobs tournament, but pulled out this year because they got invited to one of the most prestigious holiday tournaments in the country: Torrey Pines, which begins on Dec. 26.
“I’ve been trying to get into this tournament for a while,” Mundelein coach Dick Knar said. “There are teams from all over the country there, nationally-ranked teams. It’s great competition.”
For the last several years, Mundelein has spent the tail end of its holiday break away from home, playing in tournaments in Arizona, California and the Washington D.C. area as a way to combine a fresh basketball experience with a unique sightseeing trip.
While out West, Knar kept hearing about Torrey Pines.
“We were playing out (in San Diego) one year in another tournament and I kept asking people how you get in at Torrey Pines and they said you had to get invited,” Knar said. “We’ve won 55 games over the last two years and we’ve gotten to know some people out there, so we were finally able to get an invitation.”
There will be 60 teams competing at Torrey Pines, broken into six divisions. The Mustangs are in the top division.
“It’s going to be a tough tournament with a lot of great teams,” Knar said. “But it’s going to be really good for our team to face that kind of competition.
“I wanted to make our schedule as hard as possible so that we would be better prepared to get out of the regionals and go far into the (state) tournament.”
Like Mundelein, the Lakes boys are also making a change of venue for the holidays.
Lakes has taken the spot in the Jacobs tournament that Mundelein vacated in order to play in the Torrey Pines tournament in California.
For the past several years, Lakes has played in the Grant holiday tournament.
“We really liked the tournament at Grant, but when that opening came up, we saw it as an opportunity to see some different competition,” Lakes coach Chris Snyder said. “We’ve always heard good things about the Jacobs tournament, so we called up and got in.”
The Jacobs tournament is in its 13th year and involves 16 teams in four pools. Lakes is in a pool with Jacobs, Marian Central and Hope Academy.
“We’re looking for our guys to get that edge over the holidays,” Snyder said. “We’ve challenged our guys with that and I think they’ll have to play (with an edginess) over this stretch. We’re going to be playing five games in the next week and a lot of them will be against teams we usually don’t see. Our guys will have to be ready for that.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.