Tournaments shake up season

The Tennessee Turkey Jamm made one thing clear Friday and Saturday in Memphis: This season is going to be another unpredictable ride.

After then-No. 19 Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) beat then-No. 9 Memphis Central (Memphis) 74-60, and then-No. 6 Potter's House Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) beat Memphis Overton (Memphis) 58-52 on Friday, it was time to reverse the fortunes Saturday. Memphis Overton beat Riverdale Baptist 48-42 while Memphis Central edged Potter's House Christian 71-70 on a last-second shot by Aaliyah Whiteside.

It's a topsy-turvy world when it comes to girls basketball tournaments, and it only makes the rankings more interesting each week.

And now with Thanksgiving over, it is time for December's packed tournament schedule to begin. Below is a taste of the month's calendar, in which teams known only regionally will have many opportunities to take down nationally ranked opponents and make their debut on the national radar.

Nike Northwest Invitational, Beaverton, Ore., Dec. 3-5. No. 8 Potter's House Christian travels from Jacksonville, Fla., to the Pacific Northwest for this annual tournament that has a history of giving top-ranked teams a run for their money.

Iolani Classic, Honolulu, Hawaii, Dec. 10-12. The Iolani Classic is at no loss for tough talent after a strong field in 2008. With No. 2 St. Michael Academy (New York City) making the cross-country and trans-Pacific trek, the Eagles will surely be ready to play against the likes of No. 24 Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.), Clovis West (Fresno, Calif.) and Konawaena (Kealakekua, Hawaii), among others.

Breezy Bishop Showcase, Baltimore, Md., Dec. 11-13. The Breezy Bishop Showcase will take over part of Baltimore with a schedule that includes H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) facing No. 21 Germantown (Fort Washington, Pa.) and St. John the Baptist (Long Island, N.Y.) playing No. 20 Riverdale Baptist.

Nike Tournament of Champions, Phoenix, Ariz., Dec. 17-22, 28-30. Eleven of the 16 Joe Smith Division teams at the Nike Tournament of Champions are ranked in the HoopGurlz High School Nation Top 25, including six of the top 10, led by No. 1 St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.). Three more are ranked in the top 10 of their respective regions, lending to the toughest TOC field in recent history. Teams in the second session include Bishop McGuinness (Kernersville, N.C.), Kennedy (Burien, Wash.) and St. Mary's (Phoenix).

Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational, Myrtle Beach, S.C., Dec. 18-23. This tournament put Butler (Matthews, N.C.) and the other Charlotte-area schools on the map a year ago, when St. Michael was knocked out early. The Bulldogs return to a tough regional field and Peddie School (Hightstown, N.J.) is also in the mix.

Festival of the Phoenix, Newark, N.J., Dec. 18-20. The Festival of the Phoenix includes No. 2 St. Michael, Ramsay (Birmingham, Ala.), No. 18 Trenton Catholic (Trenton, N.J.) and Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.), as well as the host school, University.

Under Armor Classic, Long Island, N.Y., Dec. 19 and 20. Formerly the Rose Classic, the UA Classic has a collection of teams from New York and Long Island ready to give Under Armor a successful first year of sponsoring this tournament.

Boo Williams Girls' Christmas Classic, Hampton, Va., Begins Dec. 21 and includes Elizabeth Williams' Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.) team, Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and Memphis Overton, as well other Virginia and Maryland powers.

Braggin Rights Classic, Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 21 and 22, 28 and 29. The highlight of the first session will be No. 8 Potter's House Christian against Ohio power Mount Notre Dame, while the second session features No. 2 St. Michael vs. No. 4 Bolingbrook (Ill.) in a rematch of one of last year's games.

Nike Interstate Shootout, Lake Oswego, Ore., begins Dec. 26. No. 3 Mater Dei will battle some of Oregon's toughest competition, as one of Mater Dei's opponents may end up being Franklin (Portland), where Shoni Schimmel is the starting point guard. St. Helena (Calif.) and Sequoyah (Talequah, Okla.) also visit for the tournament.

Sandra Meadows Classic, Duncanville, Texas, Dec. 28-30. Among the teams at the 59th annual Sandra Meadows Classic are Bellaire (Houston), Frisco (Texas) and Colleyville Heritage (Colleyville, Texas), as well as teams from Arkansas and Mississippi.

Mansfield Invitational, Mansfield, Texas, Dec. 28-30. Both of the regionally ranked Mansfield schools, Summit and Timberview, will be on display at the Mansfield Invite for another tournament packed full of Texas talent.

T-Mobile Invitational, Birmingham, Ala., Dec. 29 and 30. This four-team tournament highlights the week between Christmas and New Years with No. 1 St. Mary's, No. 7 Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh), No. 13 Hoover (Birmingham, Ala.) and Hillsboro (Nashville, Tenn.) hosted at Samford University.

Buzzer Beater

Longtime Gilbert, Ariz., coach Miner Webster won game No. 600 Wednesday as his Highland Hawks beat Tucson (Ariz.) 51-30. The Hawks have won back-to-back 5A-I Arizona state titles, going a combined 68-4 in those two seasons. Webster, who coached for five years at Gilbert before taking the helm at Highland 16 years ago, has led his teams to eight state titles and has a career mark of 602-88 through Saturday.

The Place to Be

The Nike Northwest Invitational became the place where top-ranked teams got tough early tests the last couple years, but this year, the No. 1 team isn't on the agenda. Instead, No. 8 Potter's House Christian makes the long trek from Jacksonville, Fla., to Beaverton, Ore., for the tournament that begins Thursday. The Lions kick off against South Eugene (Eugene, Ore.), Oregon's 6A runner-up in 2009. Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, Wash.) and host Southridge (Beaverton, Ore.) are among the other teams in the tournament.

On the Move

No teams entered or left the HoopGurlz HS Nation Top 25 this week.


Tolleson, Arizona's reigning 5A-II champion, defeated Highland, the 5A-I defending champs, in the Highland Thanksgiving Tournament championship Saturday. Tolleson used a 17-4 second quarter and 21 points from tournament MVP Rebecca Woodberry to take a 62-47 win. ... No. 13 Hoover (Birmingham, Ala.) won the Oak Ridge (Tenn.) Rotary Hoops Classic tournament Saturday with a 54-20 victory against the Webb School of Knoxville (Tenn.). The Buccaneers also beat hosts Oak Ridge, 53-33, Friday. ... No. 22 Norcross (Ga.) proved that its early hype wasn't a fluke Friday as the Blue Devils beat two-time 4A Georgia champions Southwest DeKalb, 65-54, behind 33 points and 10 rebounds from freshman Diamond DeShields. Freshman Kaela Davis added 11 points in the win. ... No. 14 Ben Davis (Indianapolis) could break its school record of 34 consecutive wins with a victory Thursday against Metropolitan Conference opponent Lawrence North, which is 4-0. The Giants were 30-0 a year ago and are 4-0 to start the season, tying the school record with a 61-36 win Wednesday at Perry Meridian.

Notes and tips for games and teams to watch can be sent to mindi@hoopgurlz.com and glenn@hoopgurlz.com

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Mindi Rice is an ESPN HoopGurlz staff writer. She previously was an award-winning sportswriter at the Tacoma News Tribune and a barista at Starbucks, and grew up in Seattle, where she attended Roosevelt High School before graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism. She can be reached at mindi@hoopgurlz.com.