Drew coach Jarrod Davis says that it is important to get the inaugural Southside Christmas Classic off to a good start. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
RIVERDALE — Drew coach Jarrod Davis has always wanted to bring a quality holiday tournament to the southside of the city.
After contemplating the idea for a while, Davis finally decided this was the year to experiment with a tournament.
With the help of several coaching friends, Drew will host the Southside Christmas Classic, which will run Thursday through Saturday at the Riverdale school.
“Our goal is to grow this towards a national style tournament,” Davis said. “We have some many elite teams in Georgia, and everybody seems to love coming to the Atlanta area. Our first year is to get it off the ground and grow it each year.”
Davis said he wanted to make it sort of an Alabama and Georgia type challenge this year, but several teams had already committed to other tournaments. For the inaugural tournament, Davis has secured 12 teams, and they will play a round-robin format.
“We want to try and develop something pretty special with this tournament,” Davis said.
Local teams include host Drew, Riverdale, Lovejoy and North Clayton.
“I’m excited about the tournament,” Lovejoy coach Rick Francis said. “We are hoping that it grows into something special. The main thing is to get it rolling and get some sponsors behind us.”
Lovejoy and North Clayton played in the U-Save-It Classic in Albany earlier this week while Riverdale played in the Chuck Miller Classic in Henry County prior to this tournament.
“We are trying to get in as many games with some quality teams before we get heavy into our region schedule,” North Clayton coach Martise Troup said. “We have played some good teams, and it won’t get an easier when we get back to tournament at Drew.”
Troup said growing a quality tournament in the county would be beneficial because local teams will not have to travel as much over the holiday break.
“We support each other here in the county, and try to help as much as possible,” Troup said. “With some local teams playing, we are hoping for some good fan support. We always like playing close to home.”
Davis said that Alabama teams Huffman and Ramsay have been state-championship caliber teams.
“Both of those teams have name recognition,” Davis said. “We feel we have a very competitive field for the tournament. We have a lot of teams that were in the state playoffs. Our goal this year is to create a buzz for the tournament and build off of that for the coming years.”