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Teams play in top holiday tournaments

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Eagle’s Landing coach Clay Crump will get see how his team response against some top competition this week at the Converse Classic at Columbia High in DeKalb County.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Eagle’s Landing coach Clay Crump will get see how his team response against some top competition this week at the Converse Classic at Columbia High in DeKalb County.

Eagle’s Landing coach Clay Crump had the choice of buying new uniforms for his team this season or scheduling an out-of-state tournament during the Christmas break.

Crump chose the uniforms.

But that doesn’t mean that his second-ranked Golden Eagles squad settled for a second-rate tournament. Eagle’s Landing, the defending Region 4-AAA champion, is playing in this week’s Converse Classic at Columbia High.

The Golden Eagles played defending Class AAAAA Alabama champion Wenona on Monday.

Crump believes this tournament will be a good measuring stick for his team, which reached the semifinals last season for the first time in school history. Eagle’s Landing lost to Columbia in Macon.

“We sort of get to find out where we stand,” Crump said. “No team in this tournament is just going to let us win.”

The same will be true for North Clayton as it makes the trek to Ocala, Fla., to play in the prestigious Kingdom of the Sun tournament. North Clayton, which features Georgia Tech signee Marcus Hunt, will take on Montverde Academy of Florida tonight in the first round.

Montverde Academy, which is ranked in the latest USA Today Top 25 poll, has two highly-recruited players on its roster.

“We realize that this is a big tournament,” said North Clayton coach Martisse Troup, who played in this tournament as a junior at Albany’s Monroe High. “We know if we can compete well in this tournament, it will give us some confidence going into the second half of the season.”

Two weeks ago, North Clayton played in the annual Memphis vs. Atlanta Shootout in Tennessee. The Eagles (7-1) split their two games against some top Memphis competition.

“We have been playing pretty well lately,” Troup said. “Right now, we go about 12 deep on our team. Everybody is coming in and playing their role on the team.”

Troup said there are some advantages of taking a team out of town for the holiday break.

“You get the exposure for your kids, and they also get to see different styles of basketball,” Troup said. “When I was in high school, my coach took us out of town every year. I want to give my kids the same opportunities.”

Crump acknowledged that going away has some advantages, but he also said staying home can also be beneficial.

“The kids get a chance to still play in front of the family and friends,” he said. “We wanted to buy new uniforms this season, and we got them. This tournament has a lot of good teams. We will be tested.”

Both Lovejoy and Jonesboro will play in the Hoops In Overdrive tournament this coming weekend in Roswell.