Holiday Hoops Now 16-Team Affair

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Scrap that old version of the Holiday Hoops Basketball Tournament.

Only last week, Fountain Hills High School one of the 17 teams originally entered in the tournament decided to remove its team from the holiday shootout Dec. 27 and 28 in Payson. With the Falcons no longer participating, tournament director Teddy Pettet spent several days devising new bracketing.

Pettet said he wasn't entirely sure why Fountain Hills withdrew, but was told the school's athletic director had committed the team to play elsewhere.

The absence of the Falcons will mean five less tournament games will be played over the course of the two days.

In the original schedule released last month, Fountain Hills was to open the tournament at 11:30 a.m. Thursday against Gilbert.

In Pettet's new bracketing, Higley takes over FH's opening round slot against Gilbert.

In the first schedule, Higley the 17th team in the tournament was to begin play in a pigtail game against the winner of the Payson vs. Phoenix Christian clash. That pigtail game will no longer be played.

Payson opens the tournament at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Wilson Dome against PC.

In the second round, Payson if victorious will play the winner of the Flagstaff Sinagua vs. Phoenix Camelback contest. That game is slated for 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the dome.

If Payson opens with a loss to PC, the Horns play at 3 p.m. in the old gym against the loser of the Sinagua vs. Camelback match.

The 16-team tournament field features several topnotch teams that Pettet expects to contend for the title. Among them are Tuba City, Round Valley, Mesa Westwood and possibly the once-beaten Lady Longhorns.

With several 4A and 5A teams entered including Canyon del Oro from Tucson the battle for the tournament title will feature a mix of schools from around the state.

The championship showdown is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in the dome.

Hot shots

As tournament director, Pettet has put together a challenge that will allow individual players to showcase their skills.

The contest which features one pre-selected player from each team will be conducted much like the NBA 3-point shootout that is held each year as part of the all-star game festivities.

Each player will be given 15 attempts from different locations beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc. All shots must be taken in less than a one-minute time period.

The winner is the player who sinks the most attempts.

The Lady Longhorns will be represented in the contest by sophomore point guard Whitney Hardt the coach's daughter.

In regular season play, Whitney has shown the ability to hit the open 3-ball when called upon. Her shooting prowess could make her a contender for the 3-point title.

The final round of the 3-point shootout will be held at halftime of the championship game.

Admission

On Thursday, admission to the tournament is $5 for all games in both the old PHS gymnasium and Wilson Dome.

Admission to Friday's early morning and afternoon games is $5.

For the championship round Friday evening which will include a trio of contests for the consolation title, third- and fourth-place and first- and second-place the admission will be $5. A concession stand will be open.

All proceeds from the tournament benefit the Lady Longhorn basketball program.

Coach Hardt is hoping for a good turnout of fans to support his team that is off to an impressive 8-1 start.

"The girls would like the dome full of fans," he said. "That usually makes them play better."

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