Two Class 1A top 10 teams, the fifth-ranked Tornadoes and the ninth-ranked Decatur Heritage Eagles, will be joined by the Class 4A Dora Bulldogs and the Class 3A American Christian Patriots in varsity boys action, while the Eagles and the Bulldogs will also square-off in a varsity girls matchup.
No. 5 Parrish cruised to a perfect 13-0 mark in the first half of the season, while No. 9 Decatur Heritage (9-3) have won eight consecutive games, including a 63-61 victory over Class 3A West Morgan (12-3). Dora (8-4) handed Class 1A seventh-ranked Marion County their first loss of the year, 78-51, and American Christian (8-4) recorded a key 59-46 win over Carbon Hill.
Parrish coach Heath Burns said that the quality of the four teams that are competing should provide plenty of excitement for the fans that will attend.
“The teams that are coming to play are very well-coached. They all have different styles of play and execute the fundamentals very soundly,” Burns said. “We are eager to see how we can compete against varying levels of gameplay and tempo, as well as the good players that will be performing for those teams. Dora being here is an added bonus — they are not only an experienced, extremely athletic team, but having the tournament here at Parrish will give their fans an opportunity to enjoy watching them in a nearby location.
“It’s going to be a great tournament for everyone because people are not only going to have the chance to see great basketball, but great players on each team as well. We could easily have as many as 7 guys on the court these two days who will be playing college basketball in the future.”
Burns also added that the tournament will help the coaches of all four teams gauge areas of strength and weakness moving into the second half of the season.
“The period after the Christmas break is critical — we took six days off, then had six consecutive days of practice. To play against the level of competition we’re going to face during these two days will serve as a measuring stick on where we are as a team,” Burns said.
“It allows a coach to see how their team will perform in a tournament environment, where they’ll have to play different teams on back-to-back days. Every game will be a playoff-caliber contest — for us, we want to see if our guys will react and play as well as we did in the first half of the season and each one of these teams are more than capable of being in each of their respective region championships and going to the final four.”
The Classic will open with the Dora and Decatur Heritage varsity girls matchup at 5 p.m., followed by the Bulldog and Eagle boys clash at 6:15. Parrish will take on American Christian at 7:30.