Wabash Valley basketball fans already know that the holiday season means high school basketball in abundance as the 12th Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic is slated for the post-Christmas break at Terre Haute North High School.
The Northview Knights are an annual participant in the tourney and have been a factor in nearly every Classic that has been contested in the new era.
The Knights have participated in all but one of the 11 Wabash Valley Classic Tourneys that have been played since it was re-introduced. The lone year that Northview didn't participate was in 2003 when the Knights played in the Hall of Fame Classic against A.J. Graves' White River Valley squad and a Greg Oden-led Lawrence North squad.
The Knights have played well in the tourney with a championship in 2001 and 2002 following Hamilton Southeastern's inaugural win over runner-up Bloomfield in 2000.
The Knights have finished second in 2006 (to Terre Haute North) and 2010 (to Terre Haute North) and placed third in 2004.
Fans might remember that Zach Keyes held the single-game and tourney scoring record briefly after he scored 34 points in one game during the 2003 tourney. He also set the record for tournament points with 90. Teammate Logan Whitman set the single-game 3-pointer mark with eight in the same year.
However, those marks have since gone by the wayside as Terre Haute South's John Michael Jarvis fired in nine 3-pointers in a game during the 2008 tourney. Ironically it was in the third-place game that the Braves broke the team mark for 3-pointers in a game with 18 against the Knights. The season before, current Sycamore and former Rockville standout R.J. Mahurin broke the single-game scoring mark with 40 points and the tourney record with 118. Mahurin also holds the career tourney scoring record with 292 during his stint with the Rox.
The Knights will take on coach Ernie Maesch's former squad, the Shakamak Lakers, in each teams' opener in the 2011 tourney at 8:30 p.m.
The tourney begins on Tuesday, Dec. 27 and runs through Friday, Dec. 30.
Two other Clay County teams will also be in tourney action during the same time frame as the Clay City girls' team returns to take on a talented field in the Toby Yoho Tournament held at Eastern Greene High School and Middle Schools on Dec. 27-28.
The opening day's play is separated into four pools of teams with Clay City facing Forest Park at the middle school on Dec. 27 beginning at 2:45 p.m. in Pool C play. The Eels will also play that evening against the Edgewood Mustangs, currently unbeaten at 8-0.
Other teams in the tourney include South Knox, Eastern Greene and Riverton Parke in Pool A. Brownstown Central, Monrovia and Brown County are in Pool B and Paoli, Hauser and Bloomington North are in Pool D.
Following the first day, teams will move on to day two and play for their place according to their pool play record.
The competition will once again be a good test for the Eels as Riverton Parke (Class A No. 7), Paoli (Class 2A No. 18) and Edgewood (Class 3A No. 2) are each state-ranked. South Knox is fresh off a win over former No. 1 ranked Vincennes Rivet on Dec. 8. Brown County's only two losses are to Edgewood and a highly ranked Sullivan squad.
Not to be forgotten in the holiday hoops madness is the Clay City boys' team that has built a 4-0 mark thus far in the season.
The Eels will return to the Graber Post Buildings Classic for the sixth edition of the tourney held at North Daviess High School.
The draw was made for the tourney that begins on Wednesday, Dec. 28 and the Eels will take part in the tourney opener against Barr-Reeve at 3 p.m. The following game will feature a pair of new teams to the tournament as Orleans and South Knox face off at 4:30 p.m. The third game of the opening day will feature another new team to the field as North Posey takes on the host Cougars at 6 p.m. The nightcap will see a pair of recent tourney champions as Forest Park and Brownstown Central square off. Forest Park is the defending champion with Brownstown Central having won the 2009 edition.
Second round games will take place the following day with championship round games slated for Friday.
A special congratulation goes out to Clay City senior Carmela Roeschlein, who surpassed the school mark for girls' career points as she broke Whitney McWilliams' mark of 1,234 points in Monday's win over North Central (Farmersburg).
Roeschlein tallied 43 points in the game and surpassed the mark with a 3-pointer with 6:04 remaining in the third quarter.
Teammate Brielle Drelick got off to a red hot start to the game by hitting all eight of her first quarter shots from the field and went on to score a career-high 41 points in the game. She should reach 1,000 career points in the next game or two as she needs 36 points to reach the illustrious plateau.