Holiday tournaments might be the best thing about the prep winter regular season. They break up monotony. They let teams gauge where they stack up against varied competition.
Every varsity basketball team in the area plays in one, and I can’t blame them. And these days, every local varsity team plays in only one. That’s a plus, because this is an instance where you can have too much of a good thing.
There have been several teams that’ve signed up for two tournaments – one before Christmas, and one after – in late December. Some area boys teams, including Morris, used to double up with the local Winter Classic and other post-Christmas tournaments, most notably the Plano Christmas Classic. The Morris girls used to go to Ottawa every year before the holiday –which they still do – and then to Dixon after. Minooka’s girls have gone to Oswego early and Edwardsville late. They’ve since ditched both to play at Lincoln-Way West.
Nobody’s doubling up this year, and that’s a great decision. Playing in only one tournament means you’re bound to have a stretch of several days without a game at some point. That’s good for the kids, physically and mentally, right in the middle of the season, and the fact that you might be playing four games in five days or something in the one tournament you do attend only heightens the need for a break. And most teams will actually get two breaks.
The Morris boys, for example, played at Yorkville on Dec. 14. Their first game at Plano isn’t until today. They’ll then play their final game at Plano on Monday, and they’ll have another brief layoff until they play at Seneca on Jan. 4.
Because their holiday tournament came before Christmas, the Morris girls didn’t get a big break following their Dec. 14 game at Yorkville. They were off until only Friday, when they began the Ottawa Christmas Tournament. But they’re already back on vacation, having concluded play at Ottawa on Monday, and they won’t play again until Jan. 3, when they’re scheduled to play at, ironically enough, Ottawa.
I should point out that both of our girls bowling teams, Minooka and Morris, are participating in multiple holiday tournaments, and that all of our wrestling teams will be keeping busy. There’s a difference. The bowling tournaments in question are only one day long, and with the exception of a two-day dual-team tournament at St. Thomas More, the same is true of every late-December event the area’s wrestling teams will enter.
Without delving into practice schedules, the area’s teams have seemingly done an excellent job of balancing business and leisure at an important time of year.
That’s only going to help them as playoff preparations begin in earnest in the coming weeks.