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The Holiday Classic back at full strength this year

St. Augustine's Jaden Matingou (center), here in November, practices under the watchful eye of coach Mike Haupt.
St. Augustine’s Jaden Matingou (center,), here in November, practices under the watchful eye of coach Mike Haupt, whose team will play in The Holiday Classic next week. Saint Augustine is ranked fourth in the state.
(Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Holiday Classic, with teams from all over the country, is back next week with another strong field after the last two COVID-affected seasons

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For the first time in four years, John Olive — tournament director for The Holiday Classic — feels good, really good, about his 80-team, 55-city, 10-state high school basketball tournament.

“In 2019, the coronavirus was here, but we didn’t really know it,” said Olive, the head basketball coach at Torrey Pines High. “Players were sick, coaches were sick, fans were ill, and the crowds were down.

“We lost the 2020 event entirely to COVID.

“We were back in ’21, but it was a challenge. We had teams de-commit at the last minute. We had others play a game, then drop out. Griffin Jimenez, Jake Gilliam (tournament chairmen) and Tanner McEntee did a great job behind the scenes, reworking schedules, getting teams from one venue to another. Those guys aged five years in a week.”

This year’s tournament — the 32nd edition of The Holiday Classic — tips off Dec. 27 at five sites: Torrey Pines (National Division), St. Augustine (American), Carlsbad (Senator’s), Santa Fe Christian (Governor’s) and Rancho Buena Vista (Mayor’s).

There are 16 teams in each division with eight games a day at each site, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and ending around 10 p.m.

The National Division features nationally ranked Coronado of Nevada (No. 41) and St. John’s College of Washington, DC (No. 35).

That division also includes San Diego powers St. Augustine, Torrey Pines and San Ysidro. Also in the National: San Jose Archbishop Mitty, ranked No. 9 in California; San Juan Capistrano JSerra, ranked No. 2 in the state; and Washington state powers O’Dea and Eastside Classic.

THE HOLIDAY CLASSIC  

What: 80 teams, 55 Cities, 10 States, 5 Brackets

When: Tip Off Night Dec. 23 at Torrey Pines High. Tournament starts Dec. 27

Sites: Torrey Pines, St. Augustine, Carlsbad, Santa Fe Christian, Rancho Buena Vista

Ticket prices: Dec. 23, $20 adults, $15 ages 6-18. Children under 6 free.

Ticket prices: Dec. 27-30, at all sites — $15 adults, $10 ages 6-18. Children under 6 free.

Website: Theholidayclassic.org for update scores and schedules.

“We’re doing a lot of traveling this season,” said Mike Haupt, coach of St. Augustine, the No. 1-ranked team in San Diego. “We’re going to the Tark Classic (in Las Vegas), the Nike Tournament of Champions (in Arizona), the Hoophall Classic (in Springfield, Mass.), and we have a nonleague game against Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks.

“But I love playing in John’s tournament. We get to play great teams, teams from all over the country, and we don’t have to get on a plane.”

Terry Tucker’s San Ysidro team also plays a national schedule and boasts stars Mike Williams and JJ Taylor, who both have committed to Memphis.

“I’ll always support John’s tournament,” Tucker said. “We get a chance to play great teams and still stay in the county. I can’t ask for more.”

The calendar works out perfectly of Olive and The Holiday Classic.

The event normally starts on Dec. 26. This year, Olive has the luxury of starting on Tuesday, Dec. 27 and finishing on Friday, Dec. 30.

There is a Tip-Off Night on Dec. 23 at Torrey Pines, featuring Carlsbad vs. Mission Bay at 5 p.m.; Torrey Pines vs. Santa Fe Christian at 6:30 p.m. and San Ysidro vs. La Costa Canyon at 8 p.m.

“Starting on the 27th gives the out-of-state teams and teams from Northern California an extra day to travel,” Olive said. “Starting on the 27th means teams don’t have to travel on Christmas.

“I anticipate a great tournament and great crowds.

“We try and get a good team from every geographical region. We have St. John’s from D.C., St. Edward from Ohio, great teams from Texas, the Northwest and Southwest.

“And of course, California and San Diego. That excites me.”

One hiccup is at Carlsbad High, host of the Senator’s Division.

The main gym was flooded and the floor is under repair. So the tournament will be run in Carlsbad’s old gym, which is still better than most schools’ gyms.

“We got lucky there,” Olive said. “Trying to find a new
venue this late would have been tough.

“Fingers crossed, we’re back to normal … great games, great crowds.”

THE HOLIDAY CLASSIC

Top San Diego teams

St. Augustine, No. 4 in the state; Torrey Pines No. 24 in state; Carlsbad No. 33 in state; Otay Ranch No. 58 in state; Mission Bay No. 93 in state; San Ysidro.

Top California teams

JSerra, No. 2; San Jose Archbishop Mitty, No. 9 in state; Dougherty Valley, No. 25; Clayton Valley Charter; The Priory School, No. 51; Foothill No. 69; Concord De La Salle, No. 74.

Top out-of-state teams

St. John’s College, DC, No. 35 in nation; Coronado, Nev., No. 41 in nation; Archbishop Alter, No. 46 in Ohio; Centennial, No. 17 in Arizona; Spanish Springs, No. 7 in Nevada; Foothill, No. 8 in Nevada; Cimarron-Memorial, No. 15 in Nevada; College Park, No. 94 in Texas; Douglas, No. 9 in Nevada; O’Dea, No. 3 in Washington; Eastside Catholic, No. 5 in Washington; Lehi, No. 30 in Utah.

Top committed players

Derek Sangster, Archbishop Mitty, Princeton

Sebastian Mack, Coronado, Nev., UCLA

Ryan Beasley, Dougherty Valley, USF

Darius Carr, L.A. Fairfax, New Mexico State

Ty Hendler, La Costa Canyon, Colorado College

Peter Amakasu, Lehi, Utah, Hawaii Pacific

Varick Lewis, Monterey Trail, Long Beach State

Miles Clark, O’Dea, Air Force

Mason Williams, O’Dea, Eastern Washington

Mike Williams, San Ysidro, Memphis

JJ Taylor, San Ysidro, Memphis

Jaden Matingou, St. Augustine, Point Loma Nazarene

Derrius Carter-Hollinger, St. Augustine, Arizona Christian

Cam Grant, St. Edward, Ohio, Stanford

Malik Mack, St. John’s College, DC, Harvard

Shey Eberwein, The Woodlands, Texas, South Dakota

Cyprian Hyde, Vista, Portland

Other Top Players

Jurian Dixon, St. Augustine, San Diego Section Player of the Year

Jake Hall, Carlsbad, All-CIF as freshman

Charlie Hutchinson, Mission Bay, Ivy League & Big West interest

Cerardo Guerrero, San Ysidro, Top SG on FIBA Mexican National Team

Angelo Gil, San Ysidro, All-CIF returnee

JJ Bartelloni, Torrey Pines, Interest from high academic schools and Patriot League

Josiah Cunningham, Coronado, Nev., 4-star prospect

Tee Bartlett, Coronado, Nev., Top 50 in Class of 2025

Alec Blair, De La Salle, Top 30 Class of 2025

Jacob Cofie, Eastside Catholic, 4-star prospect

Miles Goodman, O’Dea, Offer from San Diego State

Daquan Davis, St. John’s College; Top 50 Class of 2024

Shey Eberwein, The Woodlands, Top 30 Class of 2014


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