While the holidays represent the biggest time of the high school basketball season for some of Gwinnett County's top boys and girls teams to participate in major tournaments or showcase events, the last weekend of January isn't far behind.
And one of the more competitive events will take place in the county when Norcross hosts the 2013 Hilton Invitational this Saturday.
This year's event will feature six games pitting six of Georgia's top boys teams against quality opponents from out of state, including the Blue Devils playing host to traditional Washington, D.C., area powerhouse DeMatha at 7 p.m.
"Saturday's going to be a great day," said Norcross boys coach Jesse McMillan. "We've had a lot of excitement, a lot of interest. I think the matchups are fantastic from top to bottom, even the early games. As far as we're concerned, DeMatha is one of those elite-level teams -- the history, the tradition. It will be great to have them in our gym."
DeMatha is one of the nation's most storied programs, with the Hyatsville, Md., school having produced dozens of major college players over the years, including current Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, as well as other players to go onto the NBA, such as Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley, plus Jerrod Mustaf, Keith Bogans, Kenny Carr and Adrian Branch.
The Stags (9-7) have actually struggled a bit so far this season, but come into Saturday's game fresh off a road win at Archbishop Carroll and feature N.C. State signee B.J. Anya.
Perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the day involves the other Gwinnett team, with Greater Atlanta Christian taking on Charlotte, N.C., power Olympic, currently 15-0 and ranked No. 21 in the nation by USA Today and featuring Akron signee B.J. Gladden.
The other matchups in Saturday's showcase can be found by visiting www.norcrossbasketball.com/hilton_invitational.
Shiloh in Sunshine State
While Norcross and GAC are taking part in a local high-profile showcase, Shiloh is hitting the road for a challenging tournament by playing in the Monteverde Academy Invitational in Monteverde, Fla., just outside Orlando.
The Generals played in last year's tournament and finished as the consolation bracket champion after going 2-1.
They opened up play in this year's tournament Thursday night with a win against Orlando Christian, the team that ousted them last year, and are competing against a field that includes nationally ranked foes in host Monteverde Academy (No. 4 by USA Today) and LaLumiere of LaPorte, Ind. (No. 6).
"We know we'll have our hands full again this year," Shiloh coach Kim Rivers said. "We know we have the ability to be one of the top teams (in Georgia) if everybody is on the same page. We haven't really played as a (complete) unit in a while. So, we're using this as a a way of bonding. It's almost like a basketball retreat."
The Generals have had some personnel adjustments to make lately.
In addition to losing junior wing Idris Taqquee, who left Shiloh to return to his old school in Massachusetts two weeks ago, the Generals played without junior point guard Nate Mason in Tuesday's home loss to Brookwood due to minor injuries suffered in an automobile accident earlier in the week.
"He practiced (Wednesday), and went through the walk-through (before Thursday's game)," Rivers said of Mason. "But we're not going to rush it with him. We'll see how it goes."
Brookwood's Gardner hits milestone
Brookwood's Courtney Gardner became just the 10th player in the history of the school's successful girls program to reach the 1,000-point mark for her career in the Broncos' loss to Archer on Jan. 18.
The 5-foot-11 senior scored 22 points that night to join teammate Rebecca Walker, who scored her 1,000th-career point in a win over Holy Innocents' on Dec. 1, in the 1,000-point club.
The milestone marked the first time two Brookwood players have ever reached the mark in the same season.
Gardner was the first of four local players to reach 1,000 career points this past week, with GAC girls player Brianna Cummings doing so last Saturday, while a pair of boys players -- Dacula's Brandon Goodson and Mill Creek's Trevon Shaw -- did so this past Tuesday.
Shaw became the first Hawks boys player in the schools' relatively brief history to reach the milestone.
North's Calhoun on mend
From the looks of him after his team's loss to Norcross on Wednesday, it appeared North Gwinnett wing Kam Calhoun might be lost for some time after taking a nasty fall to the floor following a collision while going after a loose ball.
But despite being carried off the court and leaving the game on crutches, Bulldogs coach Zach Smith said the injury, an apparent hip pointer, wasn't as serious as it looks and the 6-4 sophomore is considered day-to-day.