With a new school comes new traditions. The Cox Mill High School Holiday Basketball Tournament is one that the athletic department hopes will be a staple in the Cabarrus area for years to come.
The first edition of the tournament, held from Dec. 26-28, laid a solid foundation for the future, hosting 16 teams - eight boys' and eight girls' teams - in the three-day tournament.
Central Cabarrus, Mount Pleasant and Cox Mill represented the South Piedmont Conference in the tournament while the rest of the teams were private and charter schools from around the Charlotte area. Lake Norman Charter, Gray Stone Day, Covenant Classical, Queens Grant and Grace Academy rounded out the eight-school lineup.
Holiday tournaments have become a yearly tradition for local basketball teams, allowing basketball players to keep playing even when school is not in session while also giving them a chance to showcase their abilities to scouts, who often attend high profile tournaments.
"The opportunity to play over the holiday and not take two weeks off is good for everybody," said Cox Mill athletic director Tim Niedermeier.
All 16 teams played during the first two days. Monday's winning teams moved onto the semifinals while losing teams played a consolation game Tuesday. The championship and third place boys' and girls' games were played Wednesday night.
Gray Stone girls beat Lake Norman Charter in the championship game 62-55 after three overtimes. Central Cabarrus lost to Queens Grant in the boys' final 64-46.
Cox Mill boys' coach and tournament director Brad Hinson has experience hosting high school basketball tournaments. He organized the Cabarrus County tournament last year at Jay M. Robinson.
Now that all the Cabarrus County teams are in the same conference, he wanted to give the players a chance to play a variety of teams.
"(The players) get to play teams that they normally don't play on a regular basis," said Hinson. "We make relationships that way, meeting coaches from other teams and networking."
Hinson and Niedermeier sat down and chose about 20 schools that they wanted to invite to the tournament. They drew names out of a hat to set the brackets.
They hope that after the first year many of these teams will come back and play again.
"Hopefully we'll get a core group of teams to come every year and develop some rivalries," said Niedermeier.
Niedermeier said he wanted the tournament to start a tradition that the school can build on. Hinson also hopes that the holiday tournament will become something that area basketball fans get excited about.
"I want to try to keep it going," said Hinson. "Make it an annual thing that people look forward to."
Things went smoothly in the tournament's first year, said Hinson. Even with eight games back-to-back in the same gym, everything stayed right on schedule.
For the Cox Mill teams, the tournament was even more special because they got their first wins. The boys' team won their first round game against Lake Norman Charter and the girls' won on the second day against Queens Grant.
"Winning makes it a little better," said Hinson.
More Tournament Results
Other Cabarrus County schools also played in tournaments over winter break.
Concord boys traveled to the prestigious Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where they pulled off a first round win against Myrtle Beach High before being knocked into the consolation bracket with a loss to Columbia (Ga.). The Spiders lost by three in overtime to Alexander Hamilton in the consolation bracket.
The Concord girls won two games and lost one in the Burke County Christmas Tournament.
The Hickory Ridge girls lost in the finals of the Fifth Third Bank Holiday Tournament while the Northwest Cabarrus girls finished seventh. The Northwest Cabarrus boys finished sixth in the tournament.
The First Assembly girls and boys won the David Wright Holiday Classic in Cherryville. The Hickory Ridge boys' team went 2-1 in the tournament.
The Cannon School boys finished seventh and Jay M. Robinson finished eighth in the Bojangles' Shootout in Charlotte.
The Robinson and A.L. Brown girls' teams played in the finals of the Cougars Holiday Tournament at Vance High School with Robinson winning 56-35.