For those high school boys’ basketball fans out there, avid and recreational alike, if you are anywhere near Ventura County on Monday and have a little extra free time on your hands, we suggest heading over to Westlake Village Oaks Christian High to check out the Holiday Hardwood Invitational.
The tournament is loaded with some of the Southland’s top teams and most talented players around. Games begin bright and early in the morning and run throughout the better part of the day and evening. Chances are, the action taking place will be worth the price of admission -- and then some.
Here is an inside look at what to expect, and from who, on Monday. And if you can’t make it, no problem, the tournament resumes play on Tuesday and culminates with the title game on Thursday night at 8:15 p.m.
Valencia vs. De La Salle @ 10:30 a.m.: Sure, the tipoff is first thing. Being first in line at the door figures has its advantages given the fact that Lonnie Jackson will be uniform for the Vikings. The 6-foot-3 senior, a Boston College commit, is one of the top shooting guards on the West Coast and he’s more than capable of taking over an entire game when called upon to do so for Valencia.
Pasadena vs. Alemany @ noon: Here's a name you might have heard before, Steven Adams. After all, the 6-8 and 250-plus pound senior post player from Pasadena has been on the radar of college coaches since his days as a wide-eyed freshman. Injuries, however, have sidelined him more than a few times. Fully healthy these days, Adams is a force to be reckoned with once again.
Etiwanda vs. La Jolla Country Day @ 1:30 p.m.: Without a doubt, Byron Wesley is one of Southern California’s premier players. Not surprisingly, Etiwanda relies heavily on the 6-5 senior small forward, who does a little bit of everything, most of it extremely well. USC will happy once he arrives on campus next year.
Inglewood vs. Rancho Verde @ 3 p.m.: While this game doesn’t figure any high-profile prospects, it figures to be one of the more competitive match-ups on the first day. Case in point, Inglewood has played one of the toughest nonleague schedules around and still boasts an 8-2 record. A loss earlier this month is the only thing that separates the Mustangs (9-1) from an unblemished record.
Price vs. Palisades @ 4:30 p.m.: No offense to Wesley, but Price’s Norvel Pelle is the marquee name at this tournament and the Knights figure to go as far as the 6-10 senior center will take them. He’s a double-double waiting to happen and was recruited by more than a few of the nation’s powerhouse programs before ultimately deciding to play for former UCLA coach Steve Lavin at St. John’s.
Colony vs. Sacramento @ 6 p.m.: Straight from the state’s capital, Josiah Turner is truly something special. The 6-3 senior point guard ranks among the country’s top players at his position, with Marquis Teague from Indianapolis Pike (IN) serving as his only legit competition for floor general bragging rights. Colony will have its share of trouble finding a way to contain the Arizona-bound Turner.
Oaks Christian vs. Upland @ 7:30 p.m.: Generously listed at 5-10, Chass Bryan might be a tad bit undersized. Make no mistake though, the Oaks Christian junior isn’t afraid to take the ball inside and mix it up against much bigger players. In fact, that type of fearlessness will be key if the tournament hosts hope to surprise opponents and make an improbable run toward the championship game.
Loyola vs. Canyon Springs @ 9 p.m.: Far be it from us to put any added pressure on a freshman, but Loyola’s Parker Cartwright appears to have a rather bright future ahead of him. That bodes well for the Cubs, of course, who rarely hesitate putting the ball in the hands of the 5-10 youngster when it matters most.