It wasn't too long ago that we were all raving over the thrill of the opening weekend of the high school basketball season.
Now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, we're already nearly a month into the 2015-16 campaign and staring at holiday tournament week.
In total, the next three days will feature 27 holiday tournaments between the boys and girls, with the majority of the York-Adams League schools taking part in some sort of tournament. In fact, 20 of the 23 boys teams and 21 of the 23 girls teams will be in holiday tournaments. Northeastern and Red Lion will both play this upcoming week, just not in tournaments. The Bobcats (7-1) will host Muhlenberg on Wednesday and the Lions (4-4) will travel to Shippensburg on Tuesday. On the girls side, the only two teams that won't participate in a holiday tournament are New Oxford and West York, but will face off against one another on Wednesday.
But, back to the tournaments. There will be 27 in all this year in which a tournament will feature at least one Y-A League team. And with each event producing four games, that's 108 games between them all over the course of three days. What a way to end 2015.
So, in order to prepare you for what lies ahead in this action-packed week of high school basketball, here are a few teams or tournaments worth keeping an eye on over the next few days.
1. McCaskey Christmas Tournament: Beginning on Monday, York High and West York will take part in, perhaps, the most competitive tournament of the week.
Joining the two York County schools in this two-day event will be, of course, the hosts J.P. McCaskey and Lower Merion. McCaskey is one of the premier schools in the area, boasting a strong 7-1 record. Meanwhile, Lower Merion isn't some slouch of a program, either. The Aces, who are and always will be known as the school that produced Kobe Bryant, are 5-2 this season and, anytime a local team can potentially play a city school and Philadelphia program, that's something to be interested about.
The Bearcats (6-3) finally achieved a signature win their last time out against Northeastern last week and will look to carry that into the tournament. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs (4-2) are still trying to get things going after a slow start. A strong showing against two quality opponents this week — win or lose — could be just what West York needs for a strong surge during the final two-thirds of the season.
2. Gettysburg Lions Club holiday tournament/New Oxford Holiday tournament: Both of these tournaments will have three Y-A League teams participating in them, so if you like local flavor, make sure to check them out.
Beginning with the Gettysburg Lions Club holiday tournament, this one runs Monday and Tuesday, featuring the host Warriors, South Western and Delone Catholic. The Squires and Gettysburg will square off in Monday's second game, while the Mustangs will take on Chambersburg.
The Warriors enter at 7-2, while Delone Catholic is just 4-4. It should still create a compelling matchup, especially with Max Lampe and Marquise Camel leading the way for Gettysburg. Meanwhile, this week provides two opportunities for South Western to finally crack the win column.
In the New Oxford Holiday tournament, that one begins Tuesday and ends Wednesday, pitting the host Colonials against Waynesboro, Bermudian Springs and York Tech. New Oxford will face the Spartans on Day 1, with the Eagles taking on the Indians.
The Colonials, Bermudian Springs and York Tech are just a combined 3-20 this year, so this tournament could provide some positive feelings for one of these teams heading into 2016, should they win it.
3. Eli Brooks and Spring Grove: This was the one holiday tournament that began over the weekend, but does finish on Monday.
It's the Warwick holiday tournament, featuring Spring Grove as the York County participant. The Rockets won their first game on Saturday against Lancaster Catholic, 54-42, so they'll play in the championship game against the host Warriors on Monday at 8 p.m.
While Warwick isn't the closest option of the holiday tournaments, it still might be worth the drive to get a chance to check out, not only an up-and-coming Spring Grove program, but, perhaps, one of the best players in the area in Eli Brooks. The junior guard has been drawing attention from several top-tier Division I programs and will only continue to attract more if he keeps playing the way he has. Brooks led the Y-A League in scoring going into last week's games at 28.3 points per game, including topping 30 points on a few occasions, and carried the Rockets into the finals with 28 points on Saturday against Lancaster Catholic.
If nothing else, he's worth the price of admission and will most likely eclipse the 1,000 point mark in Monday's showdown with Warwick.
4. Panther Holiday Classic: This four-team tournament is easily the can't-miss event of the week on the girls' side, especially if you follow the Y-A League.
It features three York County teams in Susquehannock, York Catholic and the host Panthers. Among the three local schools, they've combined for a 23-4 record thus far and will showcase some of the best scorers in the league and teams with a long line of history.
To start, four of the Y-A League's top-12 scorers will be playing in this tournament. Kate Bauhof of the Fighting Irish sits at No. 1 (20.8 ppg), Jayla Galbreath of Susquehannock is ninth at 12.9 points per game and Emma Saxton of Central York and Ashley Stone of Susquehannock are tied for 11th at 12.6 points per game.
On top of that, York Catholic is in the midst of a dynasty, having won 10 consecutive District 3-AA titles, so any chance to see a Kevin Bankos-coached team is worth your time. York Catholic and the Panthers will take on each other on Tuesday, with Susquehannock getting Brandywine Heights. Should be a fun couple days at this event.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com