After taking his team to the prestigious Republic Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic the past six years, Manual High School girls’ basketball coach Stacy Pendleton figured it was time for Louisville to have a comparable Christmas tournament.
With that in mind, the inaugural Sam Swope Auto Group Queen of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic will tip off today at Manual. The 12-team event includes four squads ranked among the Top 25 in The Courier-Journal’s preseason poll of coaches.
“I’ve been wanting to start a tournament for a while … and just felt this was a good time to get it going in Louisville,” Pendleton said.
No. 2 Manual, the defending state champion, headlines a field that also includes No. 3 Paul Dunbar, No. 7 Butler and No. 13 Ballard. Pleasure Ridge Park and Seneca also will represent Louisville in the tournament, which will conclude with Saturday’s 2 p.m. championship game.
Pendleton credited tournament director Eugene Carner, who also serves as Manual’s statistician, with “taking the tournament and running with it.”
Pendleton said he’d like the event to expand to 16 teams next year.
“I think it definitely has potential,” Pendleton said. “We want to get a lot of marquee in-state teams with college-level players so we can get the college coaches out. We’d also like to expand and get some out-of-state teams next year.”
Here’s a look at where other Louisville-area squads will play this week:
* Lexington Catholic has another stellar field for the Republic Bank Holiday Classic, with 11 of the 24 teams ranked in the Top 25 — No. 1 Marion County, No. 4 Owensboro Catholic, No. 5 Assumption, No. 6 Mercy, No. 9 Elizabethtown, No. 10 Lincoln County, No. 15 Anderson County, No. 17 Christian Academy, No. 23 Bowling Green, No. 24 Lafayette and No. 25 Lexington Catholic.
The quarterfinals and semifinals are set for Saturday, with the championship game slated for 7 p.m. Sunday.
* No. 21 Glasgow headlines the eight-team field for the Bullitt Central Christmas Tournament, with Fairdale and Oldham County also entered. Final: 8 p.m. Friday.
* No. 8 Madison Central and No. 22 Boone County are entered in the South Oldham Lady Dragons Holiday Hoop-Fest. Jeffersontown, North Bullitt and Collins also are in the field. Final: 8:15 p.m. Saturday.
* No. 11 Sacred Heart will travel to Phoenix for the Nike Tournament of Champions, starting Thursday and running through Saturday’s 5 p.m. championship game.
* Presentation will play in the Lady Colonel Christmas Classic at Caverna, starting Thursday and running through Saturday’s 8 p.m. final.
* Portland Christian does not have a girls’ team this year but will continue to host its annual Holiday Classic, with Brown and St. Francis in the field. The final is set for 6 p.m. Friday.
* The Western Holiday Classic will include Southern, Valley and North Oldham. Final: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
* The eight-team Bullitt East Holiday Classic will include Eastern, Male, Holy Cross and Central. Final: 6:15 p.m. Sunday.
* The Waggener Holiday Classic will start Friday and run through Saturday’s 7 p.m. championship game. Doss, Kentucky Country Day, Shawnee, Moore and Fern Creek also are in the field.
* Iroquois will travel to Muhlenberg County for the Lady Mustang Invitational. Final: 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
* Holy Cross, Fern Creek, Male, Christian Academy and South Oldham are entered in the 16-team field for the Farmer’s National Bank Fort Harrod Classic at Mercer County. No. 11 Montgomery County, No. 12 Warren Central and No. 21 Johnson Central also are in the event. Final: 8 p.m. Sunday.
* No. 24 Eastern, Moore, Southern, Central and Manual will join host Oldham County in the Best In Hoops Tournament. Final: 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
* North Bullitt will host the Sarah Major Barger Memorial Tournament, with Bullitt Central, Kentucky Country Day, Whitefield Academy and Shawnee also in the field. Final: 8 p.m. Saturday.
* Iroquois and Seneca will travel to Clinton County for the Twin Lakes Holiday Classic, a round-robin event running Thursday-Saturday.
* Jeffersontown will join No. 5 Scott County, No. 7 Henry Clay and No. 20 Paul Dunbar in the Woodford County Invitational. Final: 8 p.m. Saturday.
* Doss will compete in the Capital City Invitational at Western Hills. Final: 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
* The Portland Christian Holiday Classic also will include St. Francis. Final: 8 p.m. Friday.
* Beth Haven will travel to Leslie County for the Hyden Citizens Bank Shootout, a round-robin event running Friday and Saturday.
* North Oldham will play Friday and Saturday in the Lexington Christian Classic, a round-robin event.