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Schwab: Gearing up for Christmas boys basketball tourneys

Published: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Marmion becomes the first boys basketball team in the area to open Christmas tournament play today when the Cadets tip with Belvidere North at DeKalb’s Chuck Dayton Holiday Tournament. Other teams will launch their tournament runs next week.

Here’s a glance at each of the tournaments involving area teams.

Chuck Dayton Holiday Tournament

Local team in the field: Marmion

Outlook: Marmion is off to a subpar start to the season but a pool that includes Belvidere North, Schurz and host DeKalb could offer Cadets coach and former Northern Illinois player Ryan Paradise a chance to get his team untracked near his old stomping grounds. 

East Aurora Holiday Tournament

Local teams in the field: Geneva, Aurora Central Catholic

Outlook: The East Aurora field appears weaker this season than in past years, with four teams – including Peoria Central and Kentucky power PCP – exiting the tournament. 

Geneva’s four-team pool projects to come down to the Vikings and Neuqua Valley, while ACC has been struggling badly this season, and drew a challenging opener Thursday in a foe from Milwaukee.

Elgin Holiday Tournament

Local team in the field: Batavia

Outlook: Batavia gained midyear traction last year at the Elgin Holiday Tournament, and second-year Bulldogs coach Jim Nazos hopes his team can make similar strides this year, beginning with Monday night’s late tipoff against F.W. Parker. 

Unlike last year, the Bulldogs won’t have to worry about meeting up with UEC River heavyweight Larkin, which left the Elgin tournament this year to join the field at Jacobs.

Proviso West Holiday Tournament

Local teams in the field: St. Charles East, Wheaton Academy

Outlook: As you’d expect at a tournament of this caliber, both East and Wheaton Academy face formidable foes in Monday’s opening round, with the Saints facing heralded city foe Uplift and the Warriors taking on New Trier.

If East senior forward David Mason is able to return, it could give the Saints a boost against the 32-team Proviso West field that features powers such as Stevenson, Morgan Park and St. Joe (which the Saints took to overtime in their Thanksgiving tournament).

Glenbard West Holiday Tournament

Local team in the field: St. Francis

Outlook: St. Francis plays the host Hilltoppers to open up Monday afternoon, and will face Willowbrook and Hoffman Estates later in the week. The Spartans are capable of a better holiday showing than they gave at Batavia over Thanksgiving, when they finished 1-2.

Pontiac Holiday Tournament

Local team in the field: St. Charles North

Outlook: Plain and simple, the chance to take a shot at four-time defending 4A state champion Simeon on Friday is North’s goal. To do so, North would have to beat Bloomington in Thursday’s first found. Bloomington will be no pushover; Geneva needed a 41-point scoring bonanza from Nate Navigato to rally past the Purple Raiders earlier this month at a shootout at the State Farm Center in Champaign.

Plano Christmas Classic

Local teams in the field: Kaneland, Burlington Central, Aurora Christian

Outlook: Aurora Christian opens play Monday morning against Lisle, while Burlington Central and Kaneland both have byes and won’t play until later in the week.

Central could eventually earn a shot at revenge against Genoa-Kingston, which pulled out a down-to-the-wire win over the Rockets on Thursday night. Kaneland tuned up for the small school-oriented tournament by blasting Hinckley-Big Rock on Tuesday.

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or jschwab@shawmedia.com.

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