After a short break for Christmas, area basketball teams will return to the court later this week as a host of holiday tournaments dot the schedule.
The headliner in Hall County is the Chris Mance Memorial Tournament to be held at Gainesville High School beginning Thursday and wrapping up Saturday night.
Gainesville’s boys and girls teams will be joined by both varsity squads from Johnson, as well as the Jackson County girls and teams from Dunwoody, Chattahoochee and Parkview, among others.
The Gainesville boys (2-6) have shown improvement since getting their full complement of players back from the football team. The Red Elephants won their first game of the season on Dec. 15 in their Lanierland opener against Chestatee, then pushed eventual Lanierland champion North Hall to the brink in an overtime loss in the semifinals.
Gainesville finished third in Lanierland after taking a win over West Hall on Saturday.
Johnson’s boys finished second at Lanierland, falling to the Trojans 48-47 in Saturday night’s finals.
It was the second loss of the season for the Knights, who will open this week’s play at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against Chattahoochee. Gainesville’s boys face Franklin County at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round.
The Lady Red Elephants will play Franklin County at 7 p.m. Thursday, while the Lady Knights will meet Parkview at 4 p.m. and Jackson County’s girls will open the tournament at 10 a.m. Thursday.
The tournament, in its first year, is named for Mance, the former Gainesville High School principal who died earlier this year after a bout with cancer.
Meanwhile, a pair of area teams will be taking to the road this week to see some out-of-state competition.
The East Hall boys are headed to Kissimmiee, Fla., to take part in the 32nd annual Great Florida Shootout, while the Buford boys will be in Spartanburg, S.C., at the Upward Classic.
East Hall will open play in the silver bracket at 10:30 a.m. Thursday against Eustis High, a Class AAAAA team from north of Orlanda, Fla., that finished 23-5 last season.
Buford, one of the favorites in Region 7-AAA, has battled through a challenging nonregion schedule in the early stages, and that will continue at the Upward Classic. The Wolves open against Millbrook (N.C.) at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Other tournaments involvling local teams include: the Towns County Battle of the States (Dawson County, Towns County, Union County), the WCON Christmas Class (North Hall, Banks County, Habersham Central), the Walnut Grove Christmas Tournament (Jefferson boys and girls) and the Westminster Holiday Tournament (Lumpkin County boys and girls).