I love the week before Christmas. So much excitement, planning and anticipation surrounding the best back-to-back days of the calendar.
I also love tournaments, and we have a couple basketball ones coming up.
North Murray’s Mistletoe Madness starts first, while Murray County’s Farm Bureau Christmas Classic tips off later in the week.
At the Mistletoe Madness, local squads Coahulla Creek, Christian Heritage and Dalton join the hosts, along with Calhoun, Gilmer, Sonoraville and Tennessee’s Polk County. The girls’ side has eight teams while the boys’ has six, all minus the Catamounts and Colts who will compete at the Farm Bureau Christmas Classic. The boys side includes two groups of three teams — North Morray, Christian Heritage and Calhoun in one pool with Gilmer, Sonoraville and Polk County in another.
“I think it will be a very competitive tournament,” Mountaineers boys coach Tim Ellis said. “As a coach, you take a look at tournaments and of course you want to go and win whenever there’s a championship involved.
“I think tournaments really help you get ready to play in your region tournament, because there’s quick turnaround.”
On Tuesday, girls bracket play starts while boys pool play begins. Coahulla Creek’s girls play Polk County at 4 p.m., while North Murray faces Christian Heritage right after in a rematch from the Lady Cats Invitational earlier this year. Then the Mountaineers and Lions start the boys side with their game at 7 p.m.
On Wednesday, Dalton’s girls face Sonoraville at 4 p.m. with Gilmer and Calhoun battling right after. Sonoraville’s boys face Polk County at 7 p.m.
On Thursday, the winners and losers of each first-round girls game from Tuesday face off starting at 4 p.m. Same goes for Friday with Wednesday’s results.
The boys side continues with pool play, Polk County facing Gilmer at 7 p.m. Thursday and North Murray going against Calhoun right after in a rematch from last year’s Region 7-2A tournament third-place game — one the Mountaineers squeaked out.
On Friday, Sonoraville faces Gilmer at 7 p.m. and Christian Heritage takes on Calhoun.
On Saturday, places will be determined with games scheduled to start at 11 a.m. and the two championships slated for 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The Farm Bureau Classic starts Thursday and includes local Northwest Whitfield joining Dalton, Coahulla Creek and host Murray County. Heritage-Catoosa and Chattanooga School of Arts and Sciences round out the boys-only field.
Each team plays three games and three games will be played each day. The Cats and Generals start Thursday off at 4:30 p.m., with Northwest and CSAS following right after and the Colts and Indians ending the first day.
Dalton faces Coahulla Creek to start Friday at 4:30 p.m., the Bruins take on Heritage-Catoosa right after and Murray County faces CSAS for a scheduled 7:30 p.m. tipoff.
Dalton faces CSAS in Saturday’s first game, at 4:30 p.m., with the Colts and Bruins following. Murray County versus Heritage-Catoosa is the tournament’s last scheduled game.
• Tournament play isn’t the only basketball action this week. Dalton-Pickens, Northwest-Ringgold and Southeast Whitfield-Cass all start with the girls at 6 p.m. Tuesday and the boys right after. All three area teams are traveling.
On Thursday, the Raiders travel to Paulding County for a 6 p.m. start to the girls game with the boys right after. Southeast plays again 24 hours later, this time at home against Ringgold with the girls again starting at 6 p.m. and the boys afterward.
• Saturday is another big day for prep wrestling, with three local teams heading to the Pepperell Invitational and three others scattered around the Southeast region of the country.
Morris Innovative, Murray County and North Murray will be at Pepperell’s tournament, which starts at 10 a.m. Dalton will be at the Alabama Duals in Alabaster, Ala., starting at 9:30 a.m. Southeast will compete at Union Grove’s Holiday Duals, which starts at 9 a.m., and Northwest will start at the same time at the McCallie Invitational.
Devin Golden is a sports writer for The Daily Citizen, and he will be working Christmas day. Maybe someone should send him a pizza for his troubles. Either pepperoni and sausage or buffalo chicken, please. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.