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It's an annual holiday tradition.

No, we're not talking about binge watching the "Christmas Story" marathon while stuffing our faces with Christmas cookies — although that sounds like lots of fun, too.

We're talking about something a lot more unpredictable and a lot less hazardous to our health.

After all, we know that Ralphie will eventually get his coveted Christmas wish — an Official Daisy Red Ryder Range Model 1938 Air Rifle BB Gun. And we know that shoveling frosting-covered, sugar-loaded cookies into our pie holes is not good for our waist line. 

What we don't know, however, is how the holiday high school basketball tournaments will shake out over the next few days

That unpredictability makes the tournaments a blast to watch.  

Each year, between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, the local high school programs get a brief respite from the league season.

Some area schools take the opportunity to hit the road and flex their muscles against opponents from outside the region. Others prefer to stay in York County and battle more familiar foes.

No matter the option, the local teams have an opportunity for some measuring-stick contests against teams from outside of their divisions.

Here's a look at some of the most compelling holiday tournaments involving York County programs over the coming days: 

BOYS' BASKETBALL

West York Tournament: If you want to stay close to home, this may be the tournament for you.

Friday night at 7:30, there's a good chance that two of the best teams in the Y-A League will face off in a much-anticipated championship showdown.

Of course, both teams first have to take care of business in Thursday's semifinals, when Northeastern (6-1) meets Ephrata (1-7) and West York (6-0) takes on Conrad Weiser (1-5).

If the Bobcats and Bulldogs triumph, as expected, over one-win teams on Thursday, a high-profile match-up of two teams with a combined mark of 14-1 will loom on Friday.

That could produce a packed house at the 'Dog Pound between the two-time defending Y-A D-I champion and the current Y-A D-II leader. That would be a real post-Christmas treat.

Hempfield Tournament: No one can accuse Central York of ducking a challenge in its choice of holiday tournaments.

The Panthers (4-2) face unbeaten Wilson in Friday's 6 p.m. semifinal. The Bulldogs (6-0) just happen to be No. 1 in the latest District 3 Class 6-A power ratings. 

On Saturday, the Panthers will meet either Hempfield (6-1, No. 4 in the District 3 6-A power ratings) or West Philadelphia (3-6), a school with a storied basketball tradition and a deceptive record against a killer schedule packed with Philly powers.

New Oxford Tournament: The intriguing match-up in this tournament comes at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

That's when Dover (5-3) and high-scoring Elijah Sutton take on the host Colonials (5-2) in a semifinal battle featuring two of the better big schools in the Y-A League.

In the final, the Dover-New Oxford winner will likely meet up with a strong Waynesboro outfit that will stand at 6-1 if it can beat winless Bermudian Springs in the other semifinal.

Griffith Classic: For three decades, York County has been home to a tournament that benefits Special Olympics.

The 30th annual Robert H. Griffith Holiday Basketball Classic, sponsored by the CGA Law Firm, has a new twist this season. It's been switched from its traditional home at York Tech to Red Lion because of renovations at Tech.

There are three York County teams involved this year, with Thursday's semifinals pitting York Catholic (2-5) vs. Red Lion (3-3) at 6 p.m. and York Suburban (2-4) vs. Bethlehem Catholic (4-2) at 7:30 p.m.

The county teams may be hard pressed to upset defending Griffith champion Bethlehem Catholic, which is ranked No. 1 in the District 11 Class 4-A power ratings.     

Eastern York Tournament: There are also three York County teams competing in the Eastern event.

In Friday's semifinals, York Tech (4-2) battles Spring Grove (0-6) at 6 p.m., while Eastern York (5-1) meets ELCO (5-2) at 7:30 p.m.

A potential York Tech-Eastern final on Saturday could be a high-scoring, entertaining affair.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL

Central York Tournament: This tournament features four teams with winning records and strong basketball pedigrees, including three from York County.

In Thursday's semifinals, Susquehannock (6-1) takes on York Catholic (4-2) at 6 p.m., while Cedar Cliff (5-2) battles Central York (4-3) at 7:30 p.m.

Susquehannock is coming off its most impressive win of the season, knocking off previously unbeaten Kennard-Dale, 56-37. The Warriors also feature two players (Jaden Walker and Jayla Galbreath) approaching 1,000 points.

Eastern York Tournament: Spring Grove has gotten off to a strong start under new head coach Troy Sowers, and this may be an opportunity for the Rockets to keep rolling.

This is the only tournament that starts on Wednesday night. The semifinals pair Spring Grove (4-1) vs. Conrad Weiser (1-6) at 6 p.m., followed by Eastern York (1-4) vs. Garden Spot (3-5) at 7:30 p.m.

It would be a surprise if the Rockets didn't stand at 6-1 after Thursday's final.

York Suburban Tournament: South Western is coming off a big 39-36 win over Dallastown, which was the consensus preseason pick to win the Y-A D-I title.

The Mustangs (5-2) look to keep the momentum going, but face a tough semifinal battle vs. Donegal (5-2) at 6 p.m. Thursday. The other semifinal pits York Suburban (1-4) vs. Manheim Central (1-6).

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.

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