MYRTLE BEACH — The 15th Annual CresCom Bank Holiday Classic is just a month away.
The field for the girls basketball tournament was officially announced on Saturday. The tournament, which has been sponsored by CresCom since 2005 and held in conjunction with the Beach Ball Classic, will tip off Dec. 17 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and runs through Dec. 21. Executive Director John Rhodes believes it will be another talent-laden showcase.
“We are excited for another outstanding tournament,” he said. “[There is] an impressive lineup of teams and players, including the hometown favorite, Myrtle Beach High School. I can honestly say we have CresCom to thank.”
Myrtle Beach is the only area team set to compete in the tournament this year and has played in the tournament every year since its inception.
“It helps us going into our region games come January,” Myrtle Beach coach Jennifer Dennison said. “[We’re] playing with girls out of state and most of them that come to the tournament have a lot experience and are Division I prospects. The teams are a lot better than the ones around here in Horry County.”
This year, Dennison’s squad is loaded with youth.
“We’re still young. We have no seniors,” she said. “We have one eighth-grader, five freshmen, three sophomores and three juniors. We’re focusing – like last year – on learning the fundamentals and I’m hoping we can gel together and limit turnovers. As a second-year coach, my job is to be patient with these girls.”
The annual showcase will feature some of the country’s top prospects, who will be playing in front of college recruiters looking for the next big name in women’s basketball. A new champion will be crowned this year as Archbishop Carroll (Pa.), which won last year, is not returning.
“There is no doubt that some of the nation’s top female players make their debut here,” Rhodes said.
UNC Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell, whose team played in the CresCom Bank Carolinas Challenge in Myrtle Beach last year, believes the tournament helps young players get to the next stage.
“The CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational is one of the nation’s top holiday tournaments,” she said. “[It is] largely responsible for taking women’s basketball to the next level.”
Dennison credits Rhodes for attracting teams and players that will help her team down the road.
“He’s brining a lot of great talent,” she said. “Right now we’re not focusing on winning it, just playing good competition. Once these girls get older we’ll try to make a run for it. I just tell my girls that I like to compete against the best.”
Tickets for the 2013 CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational are available free of charge at any CresCom location, according to a press release. A complete schedule of events and team information can be found at www.beachballclassic.com.
Contact MAX MCKINNON at 626-0302.