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Longhorn Holiday Classic hopes to establish tradition

While the Deep South Classic boasts two decades of tradition, this week's other high school basketball holiday tournament is trying to build its tradition as the Longhorn Holiday Classic tips off for the first time today at Lanier High School in Sugar Hill.

After hosting a smaller, round-robin event at Thanksgiving, this week's combined 16-team tournament (eight in each bracket) is a chance for the school's second-year varsity boys and girls programs to establish its footprint in the county.

"We took on (an event) at Thanksgiving, and it went well," Lanier boys (4-6) coach Jeremy Huckaby said. "(The bigger tournament between Christmas and New Year's) is a big undertaking, but our booster club is very energetic, and they've got a go-getter attitude. (The tournament) fits our community, and we hope is something we'll do for years to come."

The field of the inaugural tournament features a wide variety of teams from throughout north Georgia in both the boys and girls brackets.

While there are several other teams like Lanier in its early seasons of competition after opening in recent years -- such as Mountain View, Lambert, Hapeville Charter and Strong Rock Christian -- there are plenty of other more-established, and successful, teams in each bracket, like Cedar Shoals and South Forsyth.

And even some of the newer schools are off to strong starts this season, like the surprising 7-1 start by the Mountain View girls, plus both Lambert teams (8-2 boys, 7-3 girls).

"We're hosting teams from (Class) A to AAAAA," said Lanier girls coach David Palmer, whose Longhorns (5-6) have won their last four games after starting the season 1-6. "So, we're excited. ... We definitely have a (challenging) field. For us, we've talked about making the championship game. That's the first, immediate goal. We want to make a statement like this on our home court."