Even though schools are out for the holidays, local prep basketball teams are staying busy participating in holiday basketball tournaments.
From Dec. 28 through the 30, teams will participate in tournaments here at home and across the state.
Fifth Third Holiday Classic
East Lincoln has had a good start to their season after only returning one starter - senior point guard Kendall Bethea - from last year's 27-5 team. After beginning the season unranked in The Observer's Sweet 16, the Mustangs moved up to No. 6 in the poll after a hot 7-0 start.
Although the Mustangs (8-1, 1-1 through Dec. 17) lost their conference opener to Cherryville, they should be a strong contender to take the boys' crown at the 20th rendition of their tournament.
East Lincoln's biggest threat at the Fifth Third Holiday Classic will be No. 10 Mallard Creek, who they could face on the second night of the tournament.
On the girls' side, East Lincoln and North Mecklenburg are the top seeds in what Mustangs head coach Franklin Lowery described as the "best participant field in a long time."
The East Lincoln girls will open up play against South Meck at 7 p.m. in the school's new gym followed by the boys, who take on Forestview, at 8:30 p.m.
The Vikings' first game will be against Northwest Cabarrus at 2:30 p.m. in East Lincoln's old gym.
Where: East Lincoln High School.
Leon Brogden Holiday Basketball Tournament
The North Mecklenburg boys will take part of the Leon Brogden Holiday Basketball Tournament.
The Vikings (7-2, 0-2), ranked No. 7 in the boys' Sweet 16, started the season with seven straight wins before losing two close games in a row to conference foes Lake Norman and West Charlotte.
In addition to North Mecklenburg, the tournament features all four Wilmington high school teams - Ashley, New Hanover, Laney and New Hanover - as well as 1A Pender High from nearby Burgaw, N.C. To close out the field are Westover High from Fayetteville and Annapolis Area Christian School from Maryland.
The Vikings will play its first game when they meet Laney at 4 p.m.
Where: Trask Coliseum, UNC Wilmington.
Back to being an all-local tournament, this year's Bojangles' Shootout features four boys' teams and two girls' teams ranked in the Sweet 16.
The boys' field is led by still-undefeated Hopewell (9-0, 1-0). The No.1-ranked Titans, who walked away with last year's local boys' division trophy, are led by Davidson College-bound Jordan Downing as well as forward DeMon Brooks.
Hopewell's first day match-up against No. 5 Charlotte Christian will be one highlight of the tournament. The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. at the Grady Cole Center.
Other ranked teams in the boys' field include No. 7 Jay M. Robinson and No. 16 Ardrey Kell. On the girls' side, No. 3 Forestview and No. 10 Mallard Creek lead a strong group. The Hopewell Lady Titans (7-2, 1-0) were dropped off the girls' Sweet 16 after being ranked 12th in the preseason poll. Hopewell's girls begin their tournament against a tough 9-1 Ardrey Kell at 12:10p.m.
The final two days of the tournament - featuring a dunk contest, a three-fourth court shot contest and a 3-point shootout - will take place at Bojangles' Coliseum.
Where: Grady Cole Center (Monday), Bojangles' Coliseum (Tuesday and Wednesday).
Cox Mill Holiday Classic
The inaugural Cox Mill Holiday Classic will include Lake Norman Charter.
The Knights - comprised of only sophomores and juniors - have gotten off to a 3-4 start (as of Dec. 11) behind sophomore point guard Shivaughn Wiggins' 12 points and 6 assists per game. Another bright spot for the Knights is the play of 6-5 junior center Amr Saleh, who is averaging 8 rebounds per game.
The Lady Knights are 8-2 in large part to their all-conference point guard Jamie Williams, who is averaging nearly 20 points per game. The young team has also gotten a boost from freshman shooting guard Maria Hoida - the team's second-leading scorer.
Lake Norman Charter will face Cox Mill in the tournament's opening round - the girls at 7 p.m., followed by the boys at 8:30 p.m.
Where: Cox Mill High School.
* Davidson Day and Southlake Christian Academy played in holiday tournaments before publication.