Times Sports Editor
Nothing says holidays in the Wabash Valley like high school basketball and fans of Clay County teams will have a wealth of hoops to choose from in the weeks after Christmas.
Everything will get kicked off on Monday, Dec. 27 as Northview's boy's basketball team opens play in the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic at Terre Haute South High School.
The Knights will square off with coach Ernie Maesch's former team, the Shakamak Lakers in the day's third game at approximately 1 p.m.
The 16-team tournament features eight games that stretch from 10 a.m. when Linton takes on Riverton Parke and is capped off in the evening's final game as Rockville tips off against West Vigo at 8:30 p.m. In between there are a variety of intriguing match-ups and a wealth of top-notch talent.
The Sullivan Golden Arrows are the defending tourney champions, but are without standout big man, Rhett Smith, who is recovering from a broken finger. However, the Arrows have managed just fine without him with a No. 3 ranking and a 5-0 mark to date. Sullivan has perhaps the mid-state's most balanced team with four players averaging double-figures in scoring before Smith has even taken the court this season. The Arrows face South Vermillion in a prime time game on Monday at 7 p.m.
The match-up prior to the Sullivan contest should also be a dandy as Terre Haute North and Indiana State signee, Justin Gant, takes on Terre Haute South at 5:30 p.m. The Partriots are currently ranked 10th and have lost only to Class 4A No. 2 Bloomington South.
Tournament play at the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic will continue at 10 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday with Thursday's final round starting at 3:30 p.m. with the consolation bracket championship.
The Clay City boys and girls basketball teams are each in action this winter and have gotten away from the South Putnam Tourney and will take part in some difficult tournaments at North Daviess and Eastern Greene High Schools.
Clay City's boys open play in the Graber Post Buildings Classic at North Daviess beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 28. The tourney continues over the next two days with the championship game slated for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 30.
The Eels (2-2 overall) will have a stiff test right off the bat in the opening round as Clay City faces Class 2A third-ranked Forest Park (4-0 overall) at 4:30 p.m. The game will be the second of the day and follows Class A No. 15 Springs Valley taking on winless Washington Catholic at 3 p.m. The evening games will feature Brownstown Central (Class 2A No. 7) taking on South Knox at 6 p.m. In the evening's finale, Class A No. 6 North Daviess takes on perennial power Barr-Reeve, currently ranked 18th in Class A.
Day two will feature consolation round play at 3 p.m. with the winner's bracket semifinals at 6 p.m.
The Lady Eels haven't exactly shied away from top competition in its tournament either as Clay City has joined the field at the Eastern Greene Toby Yoho Classic beginning on Dec. 28.
The 11-team field is broken up into three pools with the Eels in a difficult pool that includes Class 4A 13th-ranked Bloomington North, a team that Clay City played closely in the season opener. Brownstown Central (6-1 overall) is the fourth-ranked team in Class 2A and is also in the pool along with Class 3A Edgewood (6-4 overall).
Clay City will take on Bloomington North in the high school gym at 11:15 a.m. and will play a second game later in the afternoon. The Eels would play at 2:15 p.m. in the middle school gym if they win or in the high school at 6:15 p.m. with a loss.
After the first day's pool play, brackets will be divided according to results of each pool and will be played on Dec. 29.
The final post-holiday bash will be the annual Greene County Invitational at White River Valley, which begins on Jan. 4 and runs through Jan. 8.
Clay City opens up tournament play and will have revenge on its mind against Union (Dugger) a team that beat them 51-47 on Dec. 3 to earn the Bulldogs' only victory in eight games. Tip-off will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening and will be followed by North Central (0-4 overall) taking on Class 2A No. 12 Eastern Greene (5-0 overall).
On Wednesday, the host Wolverines (1-4) face Vincennes Rivet (3-2) at 6 p.m. with Shakamak (1-2) taking on Linton (2-2). Play continues with loser's bracket games on Thursday night and winner's bracket games on Friday night followed by the final round and championship game Saturday evening.