What does every high school hoops fan want to find under the tree during the holidays? || A holiday basketball tournament, of course. || And there will be a couple to choose from this year as there will be high school basketball available throughout the holiday season. || The big event in the city will be the annual Chuck Turner Holiday Classic, hosted by Battle Creek Central. The two-day shootout is scheduled for Dec. 26-27 and includes city teams Battle Creek Central and Lakeview. || In the surrounding area, Bronson will host a holiday tournament on Dec. 27-28 and Coldwater will also have its Cardinal Holiday Hoops tournament, featuring both boys’ and girls’ basketball, on Dec. 27-28. || Getting to play over the holidays is important to some coaches, who can be looking at two weeks without a game, if they don’t schedule a contest over the high school holiday break.
“I always like playing over Christmas break, because it gives the kids something to look forward to. Instead you have two weeks of practice and the kids are wondering what they are there for,” Lakeview boys’ basketball coach Steve Wichmann said.
The Chuck Turner Holiday Classic will be played at the BCC Fieldhouse and features a couple of the top boys’ basketball teams in the area in Battle Creek Central and Lakeview, as well as a team from out of state in Milwaukee South High School.
On Dec. 26, the shootout will start with a 5 p.m. game between the BCC junior varsity and the Kalamazoo Central junior varsity. The main game of the night on that Thursday will be the 7 p.m. contest between Battle Creek Central and Milwaukee South.
On Dec. 27, Lakeview will play Milwaukee South in the first game at 5 p.m. and then in the second game of the doubleheader, Battle Creek Central will play Milan at 7 p.m.
The Chuck Turner Holiday Classic started in 1967 and is named for longtime legendary Battle Creek Central coach Chuck Turner.
“The best thing about this tournament is that it brings everybody together for the holidays, which is why Chuck first started doing it,” BCC coach Greg Williams said. “Basketball is what everyone is coming to see, but getting family together and alumni back for the game, is really what it’s all about. It makes for a fun time and it’s a way to honor Coach Turner, and that makes it special to me.”
The Chuck Turner Holiday Classic generally tries to get some unique teams in the mix, with a squad from Wisconsin coming in this season.
“Looking for that extra team, I was calling guys from Detroit, calling guys from Toledo. It just so happened a couple years ago we called that team from Milwaukee, they had an opening and they came down. They liked the experience, so they are coming back,” Williams said.
It is the first year Lakeview is playing in the BCC tourney.
“I think it’s cool, it’s a tradition I grew up with, a tradition a lot of people in Battle Ccreek grew up with,” Wichmann said. “Should be a fun night. It’s right after Christmas, people will be eager to get out of the house and hopefully we get a lot of Lakeview supporters out.
“People can have the chance to see a couple good games. They can come out and see us and then they get to see Battle Creek Central afterwards.”
The Bronson Holiday Tournament will feature junior varsity and varsity games in boys’ and girls’ basketball at various locations. Teams involved include Portage Northern, Bronson, Sturgis and Kalamazoo Christian.
On Dec. 27, Portage Northern teams will play at Bronson in both boys’ and girls’ basketball, JV and varsity, starting at 3 p.m., with the final game set for 7:30 p.m. The same schedule will stand for Sturgis at Kalamazoo Christian.
On Dec. 28, all the JV games will be played at Portage Northern, starting at 3 p.m. with the final game at 7:30 p.m. and all the varsity games will be at Sturgis, starting at 10 a.m., with the final game at 2:30 p.m.
The Coldwater Holiday Hoops tourney will include Coldwater, Eaton Rapids, Niles, Fremont, Dexter and Carleton Airport.
Using two gyms, on Dec. 27, Carleton Airport will play Fremont in JV and varsity girls’ basketball action at 1:30 p.m.; Fremont vs. Dexter in JV and varsity boys’ at 3:15 p.m.; Coldwater vs. Niles in JV and varsity girls’ at 5 p.m.; Coldwater vs. Eaton Rapids in JV and varsity boys’ at 6:45 p.m.
On Dec. 28, consolation and championship games will be played, starting at 1:30 p.m., with the finals games scheduled for 6:45 p.m.