The first of December not only marks the beginning of the heart of the holiday season, but also Hall County’s signature event for high school basketball.
The bulk of the 2022 Lanierland Basketball Tournament, Georgia’s oldest in-season high school basketball tournament, won’t hit courts around the county until the final week of the month.
However, play-in games for the 63rd edition of the tournament get underway Saturday at West Hall, with both West Hall teams taking on Johnson, with the girls game tipping off a 12:30 p.m. and the boys following at 2 p.m.
The winner of those two games will square off against the defending champions from last year, and the top seeds for this year’s tournament — the Class 3A ninth-ranked North Hall girls and the East Hall boys – on December 28 at Cherokee Bluff.
The Lady Trojans are coming off their 15th Lanierland title overall and second in the past three season from a year ago, while the Viking boys are fresh off ending Gainesville’s string of five straight titles a year ago, though they’ve struggled to an 0-4 start thus far.
This year’s tournament will feature three other boys and girls quarterfinal games at Cherokee Bluff on Dec. 28, followed a day later by semifinal and consolation bracket games at Flowery Branch and the championship, third-, fifth- and seventh-place games at Chestatee on Dec. 30.
East Hall’s boys will be going for its tournament-best 26th Lanierland championship, with last year’s title being their first in 11 seasons, with Gainesville being the tournament’s other dominant team with 23 titles.
On the girls side, North Hall’s 15 titles are just two behind all-time leader East Hall’s 17, while Gainesville has 12.