Holiday tournaments have become commonplace

Douglas Fritz • Updated Dec 17, 2018 at 9:07 PM

Christmas tournament basketball used to be a novelty for area teams.

Dobyns-Bennett’s two-day Christmas Classic — which began in the 1970s at the D-B Dome — was the only show in town. And there were some terrific matchups in that event, including 1980 when the Indians met Knoxville Austin-East. The Roadunners and Indians were basically co-favorites for the Class AAA state title that season, and the Indians remained undefeated by beating A-E in a 66-62 decision.

D-B would go 36-0 before being upset in the state semifinals by eventual champion Nashville Pearl. Austin-East (30-2 at the time) was also upset in the semifinals, losing a one-point last-second-shot decision against Memphis Carver.

A few years later, the Arby’s Classic was born at Viking Hall in Bristol. It became a giant success — beginning its 36th year on Dec. 26 — and was soon deemed a second-half-of-the-season advantage for participating teams. Area schools who couldn’t crack the Arby’s field starting looking for other tournaments. And these days, playing in a Christmas tournament is commonplace.

This year’s Arby’s field houses Science Hill, Dobyns-Bennett, Sullivan East and Tennessee High, but almost every other local school is playing somewhere in an event after Christmas.

Included in the mix on the boys’ side are Volunteer, Cherokee, Sullivan South, Happy Valley and Sullivan North in a tournament at North. Down in Cleveland, Daniel Boone and Unicoi County are in the field. David Crockett will play in Maryville.

Sullivan Central heads to Hancock County while Elizabethton visits Daytona Beach in Florida. Hampton plays in Harriman while Unaka will be in Knoxville. University High plays pre-Christmas in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

On the girls’ side, the area’s premier tournament is the Andrew Johnson Bank Ladies Classic. Sullivan Central and Daniel Boone will participate in that event.

Science Hill will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Myers Park Holiday Classic while Dobyns-Bennett visits Tampa, Florida. Cherokee and David Crockett will be in Charleston, South Carolina, while Volunteer heads to Sevierville.

Tennessee High, Sullivan East and Sullivan South play in the pre-Christmas Arby’s Ladies tournament at Viking Hall.

Elizabethton joins its boys team in Daytona Beach. Also, Hampton is in Cleveland while Unaka plays in Jamestown.

Boys basketball Games of the Week


Hampton at Johnson County


Sullivan Central at Dobyns-Bennett

The Bulldogs and Longhorns are both off to strong starts this season. Add in the rivalry aspect, and this looks like a dandy matchup in Mountain City. …

Back on Nov. 27, the Cougars were beaten down by the Indians in a 75-29 decision. Since then, Central has beaten three good teams: Sullivan South, Sullivan East and Grainger. This time the Cougars should be more competitive against the Tribe.

Boys basketball rankings

Elizabethton keeps winning basketball games, and the Cyclones have positioned themselves in the No. 2 spot in this week’s High School Top 10.

Team (W-L) — Prv

1. Dobyns-Bennett (8-1) — 1

2. Elizabethton (8-1) — 4

3. Science Hill (8-6) — 2

4. Tennessee High (9-3) — 3

5. Sullivan South (9-4) — 6

6. Hampton (8-2) — 7

7. Sullivan East (9-4) — 5

8. Johnson County (8-4) — 10

9. Daniel Boone (5-5) — 9

10. David Crockett (5-6) — 8

(tie) University High (6-2) — 10

(tie) Sullivan Central (6-6) — NR

Girls basketball Games of the Week


Dobyns-Bennett at Jefferson County


Arby’s Ladies tournament at Viking Hall

The Lady Indians (10-1) and Lady Patriots (8-2) meet in a game with down-the-road region significance. They have combined for just three losses this season and two were against undefeated region leader Morristown West, which easily disposed of both teams.

Girls basketball rankings

Science Hill ended Daniel Boone’s nearly three-year Big Seven Conference winning streak, and took firm control of the No. 2 spot in this week’s rankings.

Team (W-L) — Prv

1. Dobyns-Bennett (10-1) — 1

2. Science Hill (10-2) — 3

3. Daniel Boone (8-3) — 2

4. Sullivan Central (8-4) — 4

5. Johnson County (5-5) — 5

6. Unicoi County (8-3) — 6

7. Cherokee (9-3) — 7

8. Cloudland (6-4) — NR

9. Sullivan South (4-6) — 9

10. Happy Valley (4-4) — NR

(tie) David Crockett (4-7) — 10

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