Nick Stevens

Big match-ups headline opening day of Holiday Invitational

Posted December 26, 2013

In 1963, Edward Pola and George Wyle wrote a Christmas song that was recorded for the first time by singer Andy Williams. Since, musicians and artists have put their own spin on the song.

I'm talking about the Christmas song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

The Holiday Invitational didn't start for another nine years after the song was written, but their is certainly meaning the exists between the song and the tournament. What started as a local basketball tournament has turned into one of the top national high school basketball tournaments in the country, and quite honestly, it is one of the best times of the year.

Speaking as someone who grew up a basketball fan on Tobacco Road, being able to drive a few minutes and step into a gym where a number of future ACC players, other Division I players, and some of the top area teams are playing is incredible.

This will be my eighth season covering the Holiday Invitational, but having the privilege of being involved in such a prestigious tournament has been an honor the last three years, and I hope it is something that continues for years to come.

One of the most memorable fields for me was in 2008. I often tell the story of how hundreds of people were outside Holliday Gymnasium at Broughton High School trying to get in to see John Wall and the Word of God Holy Rams win the title. I was actually offered $50 to let someone in the backdoor that night. I, of course, did not accept it, but it shows just how popular this tournament can be.

I have no doubt this year will be just as good, and I fully expect sellout crowds each day.

Today we tip off the 42nd HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational, and if you haven't heard already, the field is loaded. Among the many Division-I players we have eight five-star players and six four-star players, making up some of the top teams in the state and the nation.

The girls field won't disappoint either. There is a lot of talent from different levels of girls basketball in North Carolina – teams that played for regional and state titles last year, players who are Division-I prospects, and even several Division-I recruits.

Tickets are $12. They're good for the entire day, and they're only available at the door. All tickets are general admission, so get there early. Once the gym fills up, the doors will be locked.

Here's a look at the schedule for Day 1:

Girls @ Cary Academy

11:00 AM - Hillside vs. Chapel Hill
12:30 PM - Broughton vs. Dudley
2:00 PM - West Craven vs. Cary
3:30 PM - Riverside vs. West Forsyth

Boys @ Broughton

10:00 AM - Wilbraham & Monson (MA) vs. Middle Creek (Summit Bracket)
11:30 AM - Apex vs. Moss Point (MS) (Shavlik Randolph Bracket)
1:00 PM - Broughton vs. Kinston (Shavlik Randolph Bracket)
2:30 PM - Garner vs. Wheeler (GA) (Shavlik Randolph Bracket)
4:00 PM - Sanderson vs. Carlisle (VA) (Summit Bracket)
5:30 PM - Trinity Christian vs. Hammond School (VA) (Summit Bracket)
7:00 PM - Clayton vs. Lake Highland Prep (FL) (Shavlik Randolph Bracket)
8:30 PM - HCYA (TX) vs. Word of God (Summit Bracket)

Follow Nick Stevens on Twitter @NickStevensHSOT

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