Christmas has come and gone, so that means the Arby’s Classic is ready to get rolling.
The 29th annual holiday tournament will take place this week at Viking Hall in Bristol.
Action gets under way today at 1 p.m. when Sevier County goes up against Ulm (Germany) Urspring. It is one of six games on the schedule today.
For the first time since the mid 1980s, Science Hill will not be participating. The Hilltoppers will be playing in Hawaii, but the Arby’s field is still strong.
Among the highlight teams are defending Class AAA state champion Memphis Craigmont, last year’s runner-up Urspring, and third-place finisher Mentor, Ohio.
Craigmont is led by 6-6 senior Darius Gipson and 6-2 senior Robert Houston. Also, 6-0 junior Sam Craft was the most valuable player in last year’s state tournament.
Urspring will bring its usual array of size and talent to the tournament. Included in the mix is 6-5 Kevin Bright, who has committed to Vanderbilt. Also in the lineup are 6-8 junior Julius Wolf and 6-9 junior Sid-Marlon Theis.
Mentor’s shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later style will again make it a tournament favorite. The team made a tournament record 42 3-pointers last year.
Also in the 18-team field is Arden (N.C.) Christ School, which boasts Science Hill transfers Shannon Hale (6-8, Jr.) and Jaylen Allen (6-3, Jr.).
Other teams to keep an eye on are Charlotte Christian, Greater Atlanta Christian, and Columbia (S.C.) Irmo.
Also on today’s schedule is Greeneville taking on Tabernacle Baptist at 2:30, and Gate City, Va. playing Greater Atlanta Christina at 4 p.m. The 5:30 game has Hurley, Va., battling Mentor, Ohio, and Sullivan East facing Charlotte Christian at 7. The final game has Craigmont squaring off against Cherokee at 8:30.
On Wednesday, six teams will get their first taste of the event with Fort Myers, Fla., playing the Sevier-Urspring winner at 4, Tennessee High taking on Nashville Christ Presbyterian Academy at 5:30, Dobyns-Bennett meeting Irmo at 7, and Christ School going up against the Greeneville-Tabernacle winner at 8:30.
Action continues through Saturday’s championship game at 6:30 p.m.
Session tickets are $8 while tournament passes cost $45. They can be purchased at the Tennessee High athletic office, and at Arby’s restaurants in Bristol.
Here’s a quick look at some other outside-the-area teams:
Charlotte Christian — Finished state runner-up in North Carolina last year. Patrick Rooks, a 6-3 junior who is committed to Clemson, is rated as one of the top shooting guards in the nation.
Christ Presbyterian Academy — Had a record of 29-5 last year. Jalen Lindsey is rated as one of the top sophomores in the nation.
Christ School — Coming off a 32-5 season. The Greenies boast Jerome Hairston, a Towson commitment. Eric Johnson is being recruited by Wake Forest and Tennessee.
Greater Atlanta Christian — Defending 2A state champion. Eddie Martin is regarded as one of the best coaches in the state.
Irmo — Defending 4A state champs with a 27-3 record. State player of the year Jordan Roper, a Clemson commitment, returns.