GAC boys hit road for Beach Ball Classic

The only loss by the Class AA state champion Greater Atlanta Christian boys last season came in the title game of the Arbys Classic at Bristol, Tenn.

This year, the Spartans are in an even more prestigious holiday tournament.

GAC will compete in the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The event, in its 30th year, begins on Monday and runs through Friday at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

The 16-team field is again loaded. Miller Grove, the defending Class AAAA state champ, is ranked No. 3 nationally by USA Today and Class AAAAA power Wheeler is also entered.

Highly ranked national teams in the tournament include Boys and Girls of Brooklyn, New York City rival Rice and Douglass of Oklahoma City. Boys and Girls is ranked No. 17 by USA Today.

GAC almost won the Arbys Classic a year ago, falling to Memphis Melrose 55-51 in the title game.

At the Beach Ball Classic, the Spartans will open against North Myrtle Beach (8-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The quarterfinals are Wednesday, the semifinals on Thursday and the final games on Friday.

There are teams from nine states plus the District of Columbia and Canada in the tournament. A victory by GAC in its opener would put the Spartans against Boys and Girls or Clark County of Kentucky in the Wednesday quarterfinals.

GAC, led by Virginia signee Malcolm Brogdon, is ranked No. 1 in Class AA and has a 4-1 record —the loss coming against defending Class AAAAA champion Milton. The Eagles are ranked No. 15 by USA Today after starting the season at No. 1.

The Beach Ball Classic is the first of two major national tournaments for GAC this season. The Spartans will play in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions on Jan. 13-15 at Springfield, Mo.

GAC is just one of several Gwinnett boys teams playing in out-of-state holiday tournaments. Mill Creek is in this year’s Arbys Classic, while South Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge and Meadowcreek will compete in South Carolina events. Berkmar and Dacula are going to Florida for tournaments,

South Gwinnett is ranked No. 4 in Class AAAAA, but suffered a first loss in its last game, falling in overtime to Marietta on Dec. 18. The Comets (8-1) will try to bounce back beginning Monday in the Upward Classic at Dorman, S.C.

No. 8-ranked Norcross continued its murderous early schedule with a trip to Columbia, S.C., for the Chick-fil-A Classic. The Blue Devils (5-6) went 2-1 and placed third in its division with a 54-43 victory on Thursday over Benedictine of Richmond, Va.