Basketball players, wrestlers seeking holiday tourney titles

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Greenfield-Central’s Boston Willard scores after stealing the ball from a Southport player during their game at the Forum Tip-Off Classic. The Cougars are playing in a holiday tournament next week at Morristown High School.

Rob Baker | For The Daily Reporter

HANCOCK COUNTY — Heading north, heading south, heading all across Indiana, Hancock County basketball players and wrestlers will spend part of their Christmas break participating in holiday tournaments.

Six of eight county basketball teams and all four boys wrestling teams will be participating— starting this weekend — in various tourneys and classics prior to starting the 2024 portion of their schedules.

“We’ll play four games in two days, so we’ll play a lot of basketball. I think we’ll get a chance to play some kids in ballgames that may not have played a lot of minutes and see different kids in an atmosphere that’s not quite as intense as a conference game against Greenfield or Mt. Vernon,” New Palestine head basketball coach Trent Whitaker said. “Also, we’ll go down spend the night and have a lot of team-bonding stuff and hang around the guys.

“I think a lot of times after practice and after games everybody goes their separate ways. We’ll get an opportunity to head out to eat, hang out, maybe talk about more than just basketball.”

The Dragons beat host Lebanon to win the Lebanon Tournament a year ago. This season they are in the Ray Furney Holiday Classic in Lawrenceburg.

They’ll play some tough competition Dec. 29-30. New Palestine (4-1) opens against Jennings County (3-3), a 24-win team and semi-state qualifier last year, at 1 p.m. and play a quality opponent from Kentucky, Newport High School at 5 p.m. Opponents on Dec. 30 are yet to be determined but will come from a field that includes Guerin Catholic, Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian, Connersville, Pike Central, Bethesda Christian, Lawrenceburg, Beech Grove, Whiteland and West Morgan (Ala.).

Mt. Vernon’s boys basketball team is the first team to start its holiday season.

The Marauders (4-2) opened play in the Phil Cox Memorial Tournament in Kokomo on Friday. They played Plainfield (6-1) and, depending on results, would play again later Friday or today against the winner or loser in the Warren Central/Jeffersonville game.

Other teams in the tournament include New Haven, Kokomo, South Bend Riley, and Mishawaka. Mt. Vernon will play one of those schools today.

Greenfield-Central’s boys basketball team is off to the best start in school history. The 8-0 Cougars will have a much shorter traveling time than others, participating in the Morristown Holiday Showcase.

G-C’s opponents for two games on Dec. 28 have been determined. They will take on Tri-Central (6-1) at 10 a.m. and Bishop Chatard (3-1) at 5 p.m.

The 13-0 Eastern Hancock Royals girls basketball team will have a big challenge on Dec. 30 in Lawrence North’s Wildcat Invitational.

Second-ranked in the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association Class 2A poll, the Royals are in a tournament with three of the largest Class 4A schools in the state.

They will open at 11:45 a.m. against Elkhart (7-6) and will play either Westfield or Lawrence North in a second game at 5 p.m. (consolation) or 6:45 (championship).

Elkhart is No. 9 (3,330 students, according to IHSAA March 2022 figures), Lawrence North is No. 16 (2,844) and Westfield is No. 18 (2,627) in enrollment. Eastern Hancock is No. 263 with 379 students.

Lawrence North is also ranked high in the Class 4A girls hoops poll. The Wildcats are No. 10 in the ICGSA rankings. Both Lawrence North and Westfield are 9-3.

Eastern Hancock is 1-0 this season against 4A schools, beating Cathedral 56-53 on Dec. 9.

Mt. Vernon and Greenfield-Central girls basketball teams are going back to tournaments they played in last season.

Mt. Vernon (4-9) has been a regular competitor in the Twin Lakes Tournament in Monticello. It will take place Dec. 27-28. The Marauders will play Tri-County (9-4) at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 27. They will play two games on Dec. 28. Their second opponent will be either McCutcheon or Chesterton.

G-C (10-3) returns to the Lebanon Bloom Bank Classic Dec. 27-28. The Cougars open on the 27th against a strong Mooresville (12-2) team. They will play two games on Dec. 28. Their opener on the 28th will be against either Bloomington North or Lowell.

Wrestling traditions will continue for county teams. Eastern Hancock, Greenfield-Central and New Palestine are back at the Connersville Spartan Classic on Dec. 28 and Dec. 29. Mt. Vernon returns to the Mishawaka Al Smith Invitational on Dec. 29-30.

Greenfield-Central won the Spartan Classic last year. G-C’s Clay Guenin and New Palestine’s Cole Vandygriff and Bryce Doss are returning champions.