MILLEDGEVILLE — A holiday local sports tradition, Baldwin High will once again play host to the Little Caesars Holiday Classic basketball tournament.
Six boys’ teams and four girls’ squads, including the Braves and Bravettes, will take to the courts beginning Thursday and will play through Saturday.
“It will be similar [to previous years],” girls’ head coach Randall Owens said. “It’s a great opportunity to play at home and bring in some quality opponents, so we’re looking for something great again this year.”
Similarly to previous years, the tournament will be set up like a round-robin format so that teams have the chance to play different opponents throughout the three days of basketball.
On the boys’ side, Lee County, Upson-Lee, Westside-Augusta, Hancock Central and Therrell high schools will all join the Braves in the holiday classic, while the Lady Bravettes, Hancock Central, Upson-Lee and Burke County make up the girls’ entries.
Teams to look out for throughout the tournament on the boys’ side include Therrell High, sporting a 6-2 record this season and a 5-4 Westside-Augusta team, while Burke County and Hancock Central could be tough matchups in the girls’ bracket.
“Burke County right now is 8-1 and their very athletic,” Owens said. “They score a lot of points and play really good defense, so they’re going to present a challenge for us.
“Hancock Central is traditionally a well-coached team, and for us it’s a rivalry game so we always have to prepare for a tough Hancock Central team.”
Coming off one of the most emotionally draining contests the teams have faced thus far in the season against rival Wilkinson County last weekend, the BHS squads now prepare themselves for a three-day stretch of basketball.
“We’ve continued with our traditional 6 a.m. practices and the players have responded well,” Owens said. “The strength of our game is the depth, so we believe with our depth that we’ll be able to stand the test of playing three days.”
For the girls, Owens hopes to carry the momentum from the win against Wilkinson into the tournament.
“We’re finally starting to get healthy and get all of our pieces back, so we anticipate carrying that momentum into the Christmas tournament,” he said.
The boys will look to get back on the right path with a trio of wins in front of their home crowd.
Having played six of their last eight games on the road, the tournament offers BHS the chance to enjoy a home court advantage against strong competition lined up for the Holiday Classic.
“It is a great opportunity to come watch our Baldwin basketball teams in action considering we played a ton of games on the road earlier in the season, so we’re excited to play in front of our home folks,” Owens said.
There will be a $7 admission fee each day, which includes five contests per day beginning at 1:30 p.m. The BHS girls will take the floor at 6 p.m. and the boys will follow at 7:30 p.m. on all three days.