It's one of the best times of the season for area high school basketball fans, as Holiday tournaments are either underway or are ready to begin on Thursday and Friday.

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As as usual, the Riverbender.com area schools are competing in the various tournaments around the St. Louis and Metro-East area, with one exception. Piasa Southwestern's boys team will be taking the holidays off for the first time in more than 50 years, and will resume their season on Jan. 3 at home against Brussels.

Here's a look at the various holiday tournaments:

BOYS TOURNAMENTS

76TH CENTRALIA HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT: Alton will be making its annual appearance in the Centralia Holiday Tournament, one of the oldest of its kind in the state, and open up play Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. against Calumet City Thornton Fractional North of suburban Chicago at Arthur L. Trout Gym. The Redbirds will then face either Mt. Vernon or Romeoville in the quarterfinals on Friday, with the championship bracket game starting at 6:15 p.m. should Alton win, and at 3:30 p.m. should the Redbirds lose.

The semifinals and finals of both championship and consolation brackets are set for Saturday, Dec. 28, with the championship game set for approximately 9 p.m. Also playing in the tournament are the host Orphans, two-time defending Class 4A state champions Belleville West, Champaign Central and Rosemark High of Tipton, Ind.

COLUMBIA-FREEBURG HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT: Civic Memorial, Marquette Catholic and Valmeyer will all be playing in the Columbia-Freeburg Holiday Tournament, this year being held in Columbia.

The Eagles are in Group A with Brooklyn Lovejoy, host Columbia and Waterloo Gibault Catholic, while both the Explorers and Pirates are in Group B, paired up with Freeburg and Waterloo.

The group state begins on Thursday, with CM and the Wildcats leading off the tournament at 11 a.m., followed by the Midgets and the Pirates at 12:30 p.m., and Marquette going up against Freeburg at 5 p.m. On Friday, the Eagles go up against the Hawks at 12:30 p.m., while the Explorers and Pirates go up against each other at 2 p.m. Marquette then plays Waterloo at 5 p.m, and Columbia goes against CM at 6:30 p.m.

The finals will be played on Satuday, with the fourth place teams playing at 2 p.m., the third place teams play for fifth and sixth places at 3:30 p.m., the second place teams play each other at 5 p.m., and the championship game between the two first place teams will tip off at 6:30 p.m.

59TH BREESE MATER DEI CATHOLIC CHRISTMAS TOURNAMENT: Metro-East Lutheran will be in Group A of the Breese Mater Dei Catholic Christmas Tournament, placed in with Nashville, Breese Central, Louisville (Ky.) Doss, and Trenton Wesclin.

Meanwhile, Group B consists of Highland, hosts Mater Dei, Okawville, Red Bay, Ala. and Mascoutah.

The Knights will first play on Thursday morning against Nashville at 10:30 a.m., then play in the final game of the day at 9:30 p.m. against Wesclin. On Friday, Metro-East plays against Louisville Doss at 1:30 p.m, then play against the Cougars at 12 noon on Saturday, Dec. 28 to finish group play.

The final day will be on Monday, Dec. 30, with the fifth-place teams in each group playing for ninth place at 12 noon, the seventh-place game against the two fourth-place teams tipping off at 1:30 p.m., the fifth-place game starting at 3 p.m. between the two third-place teams, the third-place game tipping off at 6 p.m. between the two second-place teams, and the championship game, pitting the two first-place teams, starts at 7:30 p.m.

48TH VANDALIA HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT: Father McGivney Catholic will again play in the Vandalia Holiday Tournament, and are in Group A with the host Vandals, Macon Meridian, Farina South Central and Shelbyville.

Group B will contain Pana, Patoka, Cumberland, Bethany Okaw Valley and Flora.

The Griffins start off group play on Thursday, playing against Macon Meridian at 12:30 p.m., then play against the hosts on Friday, again at 12:30 p.m., and then play twice on Saturday, Dec. 28, facing Shelbyville at 12:30 p.m, and South Central at 5 p.m.

The final day of the tournament will be played on Monday, Dec. 30, with the ninth place game at 2 p.m., the seventh place match tipping off at 3:30 p.m., the fifth place game starting at 5 p.m., the third place game at 6:30 p.m, and the championship game starting at 8 p.m.

CARLINVILLE HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT: Hardin Calhoun, Bunker Hill, Staunton and East Alton-Wood River are all in the Carlinville Holiday Tournament.

Calhoun is in the Green group with the host Cavaliers, Hillsboro, and Litchfield, while the Oilers, Minutemen and Bulldogs are all in the Red group with Gillespie.

The tournament starts on Thursday with Bunker Hill against Staunton at 1:30 p.m,, followed by EAWR meeting Gillespie at 3 p.m. The Warriors face the Purple Panthers at 7:30 p.m. in the final game of the day. On Friday, the Miners and Minutemen square off at 1:30, followed by the Bulldogs and Oilers at 3 p.m. Calhoun then goes against the Hilltoppers at 5:30 p.m. In the final day of the group stage on Saturday, Dec. 28, Bunker Hill plays EAWR at 1:30 p.m., the Warriors go up against the host Cavaliers at 6 p.m., and the group stage concludes at 7:30 p.m., with Staunton against Gillespie.

The seventh and fifth place games will be played Monday, Dec. 30 at 1:30 p.m, with the third place game tipping off at 4:30 p.m, and the final starting at 7:30 p.m.

13th PINCKNEYVILLE DUSTER THOMAS HOOPS CLASSIC: Jersey and Roxana will be playing in the 13th edition the of the Pinckneyville Duster Thomas Classic, named for one of the all-time great players and coaches in Illinois high school basketball history.

The tournament opens on Thursday, and the Panthers will meet up against Chester at 4:30 p.m., with the Shells meeting Salem at 7:30 p.m. in the first round. Jersey then will play either Greenville or Mt. Carmel in the quarterfinals on Friday, with the championship bracket game at 5 p.m. should the Panthers win, and at 10:30 a.m. if Jersey loses. The Shells-Wildcats winner meets the winner of Elverado and the hosts in their quarterfinal match, also on Friday, at 8 p.m. in the championship bracket with a Roxana win, and at 1:30 p.m, should the Shells lose.

The semifinals and finals are set for Saturday, Dec. 28, with the semifinals at 12 noon and 1:30 p.m., and the final set for Saturday night at 8 p.m. Also playing in the tournament are Mounds Meridian, Union County, Ky., Benton and Carlyle.

87th ANNUAL NORMANDY HOLIDAY INVITATIONAL: East St. Louis goes across the river to play in the 87th Normandy Holiday Invitational in north St. Louis County, one of the oldest tournaments of its kind in the St. Louis area.

The Flyers open play on Thursday at 4 p.m. agains the St. Louis Blue Knights, a Christian home school team. East Side will then play either Memphis University High or Kansas City Southeast in the semifinals on Friday, at either 5:30 p.m. with a win, or at 2:30 p.m. should the Flyers lose.

The final day is on Saturday, Dec. 28, with the seventh place game starting at 1 p.m., the fifth place game tipping at 2:30 p.m., the third place game going at 4 p.m., and the final starting at 5:30 p.m. Also playing in the tournament are the host Vikings, Kansas City Northeast, New Madrid County Central from southeast Missouri and St. Louis Gateway Science Academy.

69TH WAVERLY HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT: A number of the area's northernmost schools will be playing in the 69th edition of the Waverly Holiday Tournament, another one of the state's oldest tournament.

Play begins Thursday at 9 a.m, with Winchester West Central meeting Greenfield Northwestern. Carrollton then takes on Virden North Mac at 10:30 a.m., and White Hall North Greene meet up with Athens at 12 noon.

The West Central-Northwestern winner meets the Carrollton-North Mac winner in the quarterfinals on Friday at 10:30 a.m, while the two losers meet in the consolation bracket at 9 a.m. The North Green-Athens winner then play the winner of the game between Buffalo Tri-City and Lutheran High in the quarterfinals at 1:30 p.m. with the losers playing at 12 noon.

The semifinals will be played Saturday, Dec. 28 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., with the final set for Monday, Dec. 30 at 6:30 p.m. Also playing in the tournament are Jacksonville Routt Catholic, the host Vipers, Raymond Lincolnwood and Concord Triopia.

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GIRLS TOURNAMENTS

45TH VISITATION CHRISTMAS TOURNAMENT: Edwardsville is playing in the 45th Visitation Academy Christmas Tournament, considered one of the best girls tournaments in the area, and started off successfully with an 86-40 win over the host Vivettes this past Saturday.

The Tigers will play against Westminster Christian Academy of west St. Louis County, a 50-38 winner over Nerinx Hall Academy of Webster Groves, in the quarterfinals Thursday evening at 8:30 p.m. The Tigers will play against either The Whitfield School of west St. Louis County or Parkway Central in the semifinals on Friday, at either 8:30 p.m. with a Tigers win, or at 5:30 p.m. should Edwardsville lose.

The final is set for Saturday, Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. The top seed in the tournament is Incarnate Word Academy of north St. Louis County, and other schools playing include Webster Groves, John Burroughs and Cor Jesu Academy.

JERSEY COMMUNITY HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT: Alton, Marquette Catholic, Carrollton, Hardin Calhoun and Triad are all playing in the Jersey Community Holiday Tournament.

The Warriors, Hawks, Explorers and Knight are all together in Group A, while the host Panthers and Redbirds are in Group B with Taylorville and McCluer North of Florissant, Mo.

Play begins on Friday at 12 noon, with Carrollton meeting Marquette, then Alton meets McCluer North at 1:30 p.m. Jersey meets Taylorville at 3 p.m., followed by Triad against Carrollton at 4:30 p.m., the Explorers meeting the Warriors at 6 p.m, and the opening day concluding at 7:30 p.m. with Taylorville against Alton.

The tournament resumes Saturday at 12 noon when Triad plays against Carrollton, followed at 1:30 p.m. by Alton against Jersey, Marquette meeting Triad at 4:30 p.m., Calhoun and Carrollton playing at 6 p.m., and the final game of the group stage tipping off at 7:30 p.m., when McCluer North meets the Panthers.

The tournament concludes on Monday, Dec. 30 with the seventh place game starting at 3 p.m., the fifth place game at 4:30 p.m,, the third place game going at 6 p.m,, and the championship game going at 7:30 p.m.

MASCOUTAH INVITATIONAL: East St. Louis got off to a successful start at the Mascoutah Invitational on Saturday with a win over the host Indians 69-33.

The Flyers will play against Nashville, who won over Lift For Life Academy of St. Louis 59-43, in the quarterfinals on Friday, with the tip-off coming at 1 p.m. East Side will then play either Breese Central or Highland in the semifinals, with the tip at 8:30 p.m. with a Flyers win, or 5:30 p.m. should East Side lose.

The final is set for Saturday, Dec. 28 at 4:30 p.m. Other schools in the tournament include Belleville East, Belleville West, Belleville Althoff Catholic and O'Fallon, Okawville, Centralia and Cahokia.

BLOOMINGTON HOLIDAY CLASSIC: Civic Memorial again plays in the State Farm Bloomington Holiday Classic at Bloomington and Normal Community High Schools.

The Eagles will open the tournament Thursday against Normal Community West in a 5 p.m. tipoff, then face either Canton or Chicago Kenwood in the quarterfinals. An Eagle win puts them into the championship bracket, with the game tipping on Friday at 8:30 p.m., with a loss putting CM into the consolation bracket, with the game starting at 9:30 a.m., both games at Normal Community High. The semifinals are set for 7 and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 28 at Normal Community, with the final on Monday, Dec. 30 at Bloomington's Illinois Wesleyan University, with the tip at 7 p.m.

Also entered in the tournament are the co-hosts Purple Raiders and Iron, Morton, Chicago St. Ignatius, Geneseo, Kankakee, Wheaton, Chicago Marist, Peoria Richwoods and Rock Island.

LEBANON CHRISTMAS TOURNAMENT: Father McGivney Catholic is the top-seed in the Lebanon Christmas Tournament, which will be played without the host school, as the Greyhounds' season was cancelled due to a lack of players who came out for the team.

The Griffins open up at 3:30 p.m on Thursday against the Greenville junior varsity team, who is replacing Lebanon. McGivney will then play against either Waterloo Gibault Catholic or New Athens in the quarterfinals, with a tip-off time of 5 p.m with a Griffin win, or 9:30 a.m. should McGivney lose.

The semfinals are set for Saturday, Dec. 28 at 6:30 and 8 p.m, with the final tipping off at 8 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 30. Also entered in the tournament are Sparta, Centralia Christ Our Rock Lutheran, Dupo, Columbia, Steeleville, Greenville, Gateway Legacy Christian. Red Bud, Carlyle, Chester, Trenton Wesclin and Marissa-Coulterville.

CARLINVILLE HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT: Staunton, Bunker Hill and Greenfield Northwestern will all be playing in the Carlinville Holiday Tournament.

Staunton will be in the Green group with Litchfield, Nokomis and the host Cavvies, while both the Minutemaids and Tigers are in the Red group with Gillespie and Waverly South County.

Play starts at 12 noon on Thursday with Bunker Hill going up against GIllespie, then South County meets Northwestern at 1:30 p.m. The Bulldogs and Cavaliers meet up at 4:30 p.m in the final game of the day, with the tournament resuming on Friday. At 1:30 p.m., Staunton meets up with Litchfield, Northwestern plays Bunker Hill at 3 p.m.. The final day of group play is on Saturday Dec. 28, with the Tigers against the Miners at 12 noon, the Minutemaids meeting the Vipers at 1:30 p.m., and the Redskins and the Bulldogs squaring off at 3 p.m.

The final day is set for Monday, Dec. 30, with both the fifth place and seventh place games starting at 12 noon, the third place game tipping off at 3 p.m., and the championship contest scheduled for 6 p.m.

DUCHESNE CATHOLIC HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT: Granite City again will go across the river to play in the Duchesne Catholic Holiday Tournament in St. Charles, Mo.

The Warriors open up in the bracket portion of the tournament on Friday at 12 noon against Notre Dame High School of south St. Louis County. Granite will play next against either the host Pioneers or McCluer High of Ferguson, Mo., Dec. 28 at either 10:30 a.m. or 1 p.m., depending on the outcome.

Meanwhile, Hazelwood East, Mehlville of south St. Louis County and Ursuline Academy of St. Louis will play each other in a mini-round robin tournament.

The final is set for 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 30.

WATERLOO GIBAULT CATHOLIC CANDY CANE CLASSIC: East Alton-Wood River won the championship of the Waterloo Gibault Catholic Candy Cane Classic last week, with Roxana finishing in seventh place and Valmeyer coming in eighth.

In the first day of the tournament on Dec. 17, Columbia defeated the Shells 43-35, while the Oilers won over the host Hawks 38-30. In the other first round games on Dec. 18, Red Bud defeated Madison 56-26, and Waterloo won over Valmeyer 55-14.

On Dec. 19, the Oilers won their semifinal over Columbia 42-27, while in the consolation semifinals, Gibault defeated Roxana 39-22. In the other semifinal games played on Dec. 20, Waterloo defeated Red Bud in the championship bracket 50-29, while in the other consolation semifinal, it was Gibault over Valmeyer 46-9.

On the tournament's final day on Dec. 21, Roxana won the seventh place game over Valmeyer 40-22, Columbia took third place over Red Bud 54=39, and in the final, EAWR took the title with a 41-28 win over Waterloo.

Metro-East Lutheran will be idle during the holiday tournament season, and will play their first game of 2020 on Jan. 7 when the Knights host Greenville in a 7:30 p.m. start.

Read More:

Dec 28, 2016 | Several area teams compete in holiday tournaments Tuesday Dec 28, 2016

Dec 15, 2016 | Holiday basketball tournaments on the horizon for area teams Dec 15, 2016

Dec 26, 2018 | Area teams set to play in holiday basketball tournaments Dec 26, 2018

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