Each year, teams from Clayton County must hit the road to seek some good competition during the holiday season.
But Drew boys basketball coach Jarrod Davis is hoping to change those travel plans.
And he got a good start on it with the recently completed Southside Christmas Classic that his team hosted last week. It was a 12-team tournament with participates from Alabama, central Georgia, the metro area and three county teams in the round-robin field.
Because they got off to a late start in securing teams, Davis elected to do a round-robin format because some teams couldn’t commit to three days.
But from the responses he received, Davis said the tournament has a good foundation.
“We are getting feedback from coaches to see what they liked and what can make it better,” Davis said. “We are going to form a committee to work on next year’s tournament. We just wanted to finally get it off the ground this year. I think the coaches like the competition.”
Davis said the next step is making it a tournament format, and possibly adding some girls teams to the tournament.
“We will keep an open mind on how to expand the tournament,” Davis said. “We got some good help from coaches in the county, around the area and from out of state. I thought the competition was really good.”
In addition to Drew, other local teams included North Clayton, Riverdale and Lovejoy. North Clayton and Lovejoy were coming off tournament games in Albany before playing in the Southside Christmas Classic.
“We are all rivals and like to beat each other, but we also support each other,” North Clayton coach Martisse Troup explained his team’s participation in the tournaments.
With a wide variety of teams from around the state and out-of-town, coaches said the tournament will help them prepare their teams for the second half of the season. Most teams will begin a heavy dose of their region and subregion games later this week.
“We got to see a lot of different styles of basketball, and that will help once we get back into our region schedule,” Troup said. “I think it helps the kids see the way other teams play. We are going to see a lot of those type of teams in our region.”
With several good teams in the area, and the potential to attract some marquee national teams, the tournament has a lot of potential. If the coaches stick together through the growing pains, the always overlooked southside could grow a bigtime tournament.
And that would be a good reason to stay home for the holidays.
Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter? @DerrickMahone_