From start to end, meaningful hoops tournaments abound

File PhotoNorth Gwinnett's Lexie Brown

File PhotoNorth Gwinnett's Lexie Brown

The Deep South Classic is keeping its traditional dates after Christmas, but that isn't the case for North Gwinnett's holiday tournament this season.

The Jared Cook Classic, named after the North graduate who plays for the Tennessee Titans in the NFL, will be Dec. 20-22 and feature its usual eight boys and eight girls teams.

The Bulldogs won both titles last season, with the boys beating a team from Puerto Rico. Central Gwinnett and Dacula will be the county schools competing with North this year. It is Cook's second year helping sponsor the tournament.

The Deep South Classic began at Brookwood in 1991 and grew to 16 boys and 16 girls teams before being cut back to eight of each two years ago. The Brookwood girls claimed their first title last year, while McIntosh took the boys championship.

The tournament is Dec. 28-30 this year and will again include one team from outside the metro area, with the Richmond Academy boys making the trip over from Augusta. Collins Hill and Providence Christian are the schools from the county joining host Brookwood in the event.

The other tournament in the county Dec. 28-30 is the Lanier Christmas event. There are eight boys and eight girls teams, with Mountain View the local school joining the host Longhorns.

Peach State Basketball's first JumpOffPlus.com girls tournament was held last season at Duluth, but this year the event for top teams from around the Southeast will be held at Holy Innocents' in Sandy Springs on Dec. 27-29.

The event will again feature Buford, which has won three straight Class AA state titles. The Wolves were beaten by Tennessee champion Riverdale in the title game last year.

Gwinnett teams in the field this year in addition to Buford are North Gwinnett, Duluth and Greater Atlanta Christian. There will be four eight-team brackets, with a champion crowned in each.

Before Christmas, Buford will head to Arizona along with four-time defending Class A state champ Wesleyan for the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions on Dec. 19-23. It is the first trip to the tournament for Buford and the second for Wesleyan, which also went in 2008.

There is a new Thanksgiving event, with the Big Apple vs. Big Peach Challenge at Shiloh on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The event matches top teams from New York and Georgia, with defending Class AAAAA state boys champ Norcross playing twice.

The two top events the first month of 2012 are the Battle of the Southeast for girls teams at Wesleyan on Jan. 14 and the Marriott Invitational for boys at Norcross on Jan. 20-21. Both events have seven games. The Marriott Invitational pits a Georgia team against one from out of state, while the girls showcase has a mixture of in-state and out-of-state opponents.