As Thanksgiving tends to be known for its various gridiron offerings, so is the Christmas holiday synonymous with basketball.
And with the holiday hoops tournament slate set to get underway, area fans will have opportunities to get more than their fill.
Even before the Beach Ball Classic takes center stage on Dec. 26, three mainstays on the local hoops calendar — the CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational, the Shootout by the Sea and the Panther Classic — get their shot.
First up is the CresCom Holiday Invitational, which tips off on Saturday. The annual precursor to the Beach Ball Classic, this year’s field comprised of 16 girls teams hails from eight states — Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and host South Carolina.
Action begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday with Norcross (Ga.) taking on Orangeburg-Wilkinson. That matchup will be followed by three more games, the nightcap pitting Myrtle Beach against Hillside (N.C.), opening tip estimated to take place at 9:15 p.m.
The holiday invitational winds up on Thursday, Dec. 22, a trio of consolation games beginning at 9 a.m. followed by the championship tilt at 2:15 p.m. All contests are being played at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Tickets are $15 per book for this week’s tournament, and with daily tickets $5.
Two days later, the Shootout by the Sea gets underway at North Myrtle Beach High School.
Among the teams joining the Chiefs in the boys’ field include Byrnes, Calhoun County, Loudon Valley (Va.), George C. Marshall (Va.), Manning, Swansea and Whale Branch. On the girls side, host North Myrtle Beach is joined by Byrnes, Goose Creek, Loris, Manning, St. James, Southside and West Florence.
Activity begins Monday morning with girls basketball action, as Manning and St. James lift the curtain on the tournament at 9:30 a.m. Later on the tournament’s opening night, the North Myrtle Beach girls will take on West Florence.
Boys hoops action at Shootout by the Sea tips off with Manning taking on Loudon Valley (Va.). The Chiefs boys basketball team will close out day one of the event, playing Swansea at 8:30 p.m.
Title games will be played Wednesday, Dec. 22, with the girls taking the floor at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30 p.m.
The last to tip off will be the Panther Classic at Carolina Forest High School, action starting at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Several Grand Strand boys squads are set to take part, as Andrews, Carolina Forest, Carvers Bay, Conway and Myrtle Beach welcome teams from areas around the Palmetto State and other portions of the Southeast to the area.
HTC to once again livestream Beach Ball Classic
For the 12th consecutive year, the Beach Ball Classic and HTC have partnered together to present this year’s event both on television and online.
This year’s Beach Ball Classic action will be broadcasted live by way of HTC Channel 20, along with live streaming images online at www.htcconnect.com.
HTC is proud to be the local partner to secure this unique connection for the Beach Ball Classic for the 12th-consecutive year and, we are extremely excited about the live viewing option on Channel 4 again this year,” said HTC Director of Marketing Tom Vitt via a prepared statement. “Online viewership for the tournament has soared every year, and the 2015 Beach Ball Classic statistics indicated a record breaking high of more than 27,000 unique visitors in the United States and numerous international locations logged on to watch last year.”
HTC will also broadcast the CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational championship game on Dec. 22, as well as the Carolina Women’s College Challenge on Sunday, Dec. 18 at 3 p.m.
According to Vitt, last year’s Beach Ball Classic was viewed in 49 states and 40 countries.
A veteran of this event, longtime radio personality and broadcaster Allen Smothers expects — much like every year at Beach Ball — there to be plenty of fireworks.
“It’s always exciting to see the great teams and players that keep coming here year after year, and there will be some surprise teams like two that we have in this year’s tournament,” he said.
The tournament’s 16-team field will include Nevada powerhouse Bishop Gorman, which won the tournament in 2014, 2013 champ Providence (Fla.), New York’s McQuaid Jesuit (2002) and inaugural Classic winner Christ the King, the New York squad that won it all in 1981.
Also in the field is Evanston Township (Ill.), Pace Academy (Ga.), Jonesboro (Ga.), Bishop O’Connell (Va.), Dillard (Fla.), Father Henry Carr (Canada), Imhotep Charter (Penn.), Myrtle Beach, Scott County (Ky.), Socastee, Westchester (Calif.) and Westlake (Ga.).