Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Holidays Bring Flurry of High School Hoops to SWFL

R.J. Barrett, ESPN's No. 1-ranked sophomore in the nation.

“naplesThe two weeks to end 2016 bring a bevy of high school basketball to Southwest Florida.

Of course the largest and best-known is the City of Palms Classic, just completed last week in Fort Myers.

But there’s more going on than just that one event.

The week after Christmas brings a pair of tournaments in both boys and girls basketball to Naples, with plenty of intrigue and players to watch.

Where: Community School of Naples
When: Wednesday – Friday
Teams: 16
Reach: National
Tickets: $15 daily; $30 full tournament pass

The Naples Holiday Shootout could be girls’ basketball’s answer to the City of Palms Classic, chock full of talented teams and top recruits from around the nation.

Miami Country Day, ranked No. 6 in the nation by MaxPreps, is probably the team to watch in this one. A defending state champion, the Spartans were dropped in last year’s finals by Fairfax (Va.) Paul VI, who isn’t participating this year. Country Day is led by Illinois-bound guard Channise Lewis, a four-star player ranked No. 77 in the nation by ESPN.

The top senior in the field belongs to Fullerton (Calif.) Troy, 6-foot guard Kianna Smith, a five-star recruit committed to California. Destiny Harden from Chicago Morgan Park, is the other top-100 senior in the field.

The largest recruiting prize up for grabs in the field is North Little Rock (Ark.) Central Arkansas Christian’s Christyn Williams. The guard, rated No. 2 out of the class of 2018, is still uncommitted, but has been drawing hype from observers for years. Earlier this summer, Williams was tabbed to represent Team USA on the U17 World Championship Team.

Barron Collier and Fort Myers are the two local representatives.

Full Team List: Barron Collier, Bolingbrook(Ill.), Central Arkansas Christian, Fort Myers, Gates Mills(Ohio) Gilmour Academy, Houston Kinkaid, Loranger(La.), Miami Country Day, Morgan Park, Pickerington(Ohio) Central, Louisville(Ky.) Sacred Heart, Hamilton(Ont.) St. Mary’s, Troy, Sacramentro(Calif). West Campus, Atlanta Westlake, Winter Haven.

Where: Golden Gate High School
When: Tuesday – Friday
Teams: 16
Reach: Mostly Regional
Tickets: $10 daily; $25 tournament pass

The Gulfshore Holiday Hoopfest started as a local tournament, but has been growing ever since it was taken over by Golden Gate in 2013.

Only three local teams, host Golden Gate, Immokalee, and Fort Myers, are taking part this year. 11 of the other 13 teams are from Florida, with two teams from out of state, Wilmette (Ill.) Loyola Academy, and two-time and defending champion Ensworth (Tenn.), who defeated the Titans in last year’s final.

The field includes defending Class 5A state champion Poinciana, and Class 6A runner-up Largo.

Full Team List: Bartow, Ensworth, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Gainesville, Golden Gate, Hallandale, Immokalee, Jupiter, Largo, Loyola Academy, Lithia Newsome, Poinciana, Port Orange Spruce Creek, Parkland Stoneman Douglas, Orlando Timber Creek.

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