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Deep South Classic stays with smaller field

The 32-team, four-day and two-site Deep South Classic may return in the future. Just not this year.

Economic constraints forced organizers to pare the annual high school basketball tournament down last season, cutting the field down to 16 teams and moving all of the games to Brookwood. The field, which typically featured teams from all over the country, also was limited to predominantly Georgia schools last season.

That's the case again this year for the 19th annual tourney, scheduled for Dec. 28-30 at Brookwood, which previously co-hosted with South Gwinnett.

"With the state of the economy and the same constraints we faced last year, we again this year will be a 16-team, three-day, all-Georgia tournament," said Deep South Classic tournament director Les Witmer, who plans to give up that post for a more reduced role after this year's event. "Last year's format worked really well and although we didn't have out-of-state teams participating for the first time in tournament history, we had a very competitive and entertaining tournament."

Brookwood, Grayson and Winder-Barrow will bring both their boys and girls teams to this year's tourney. Brookwood's boys won the 2008 Deep South championship, but will feature a new coach this season in Daniel Bowles, a former Bronco player.

Gwinnett also will be represented by the Mill Creek boys and the Peachtree Ridge girls.

The boys field also will include Gainesville, Osborne, South Cobb and Sprayberry, while the girls participants include Forest Park, Madison County, McEachern and Northwest Whitfield.

"In talking to other tournament directors, I think we're all feeling the tight economy and are very much appreciative of those who are still sponsoring us, and the many volunteers who enable us to put on a quality tournament," Witmer said.

Powerade tourney returns to North

Another long-running local basketball tournament, the Powerade Basketball Festival, returns to North Gwinnett again this season Dec. 28-30.

It traditionally features top in-state teams, although the Spartanburg (S.C.) boys and girls are both in this year's field. The girls teams include host North, Berkmar, Dacula and Duluth, while the host North boys are joined in the bracket by Berkmar, Dacula and Wesleyan.

North won the boys championship last season, while Parkview was the girls champion.

SideBar: BASKETBALL TOURNAMENTS

Deep South Classic

When: Dec. 28-30

Where: Brookwood High School

Web site: www.deepsouthclassic.com

Powerade Basketball Festival

When: Dec. 28-30

Where: North Gwinnett High School

Web site: www.northgwinnettbasketball.com