By Matthew Saari and Keith Harrington

 

WHITEHALL

Two New York teams and two Vermont teams will square off next week in a tradition that is more than two decades old.

The 22nd annual Whitehall Holiday Basketball Tournament will be held Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 27 and 28.

Hailing from the Empire State are the Hartford Tanagers and Whitehall Railroaders while the Fair Haven Slaters and Poultney Blue Devils will cross over from the Green Mountain State.

Wednesday’s first round matchups get started at 3 p.m. with a JV game between Fair Haven and Poultney followed by a Whitehall-Hartford JV game at 4:30 p.m.

At 6 p.m. the first varsity game tips off with the Slaters facing the Blue Devils.

“It’s been a long-time rivalry game,” said Whitehall basketball coach Keith Redmond.

The Railroaders will face off against the Tanagers at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s pairings are dependent on Tuesday’s results. The JV consolation match is scheduled for 3 p.m. while the JV championship game will be at 4:30 p.m. The varsity consolation match tips-off at 6 p.m. with the championship game following at 7 p.m.

The host team started off shaky this season, dropping the season opener to Lake George, 82-67, but the Railroaders have rebounded, winning all of their next three games.

Whitehall is led offensively by senior Evan St. Claire. Last year St. Claire cruised past the 1,000-point basketball milestone and shows no signs of slowing. So far this season he’s scored 127 points across four games – an average of 31.75 points per game.

As of press time, Hartford boasts a non-league record of 3-2 and a league record of 2-1, having most recently lost to the undefeated basketball powerhouse Argyle.

Fair Haven coach Bob Prenevost has led the Slaters to victory in the holiday tourney since 2015.

“They beat us pretty handily last year,” Redmond said.

Prenevost attributed last year’s win to a starting player who clocked in at a towering six feet, seven inches.

“It’s a new year and I’ve been hearing good things about [Whitehall’s] program,” Prenevost said. “But we need to get past Poultney. I’m sure we’re in for a dogfight the first night.”

For Prenevost the holiday tourney holds special significance due to him being a teacher at Whitehall for 33 years while also coaching basketball and football there.

“There are kids playing there whose fathers played for me,” he said.

Fair Haven was 1-1 for the season with a game scheduled against Vergennes on Wednesday after press time.

Both Prenevost and Redmond are hedging their bets with regards to who will come out on top this year.

“This is the one year anyone can win this tournament,” Redmond said.

The holiday tournament is a longstanding tradition for local communities with untold amounts of spectators turning out, leaving only standing room in the Whitehall High School gymnasium.

“It’s definitely one of the highlights for the local schools,” Redmond said. “I’m not sure what the number is but that gym is packed.”

Ticket prices are $3 for adults and $2 for students.

 

GRANVILLE

Even though students will be on winter vacation on the days following Christmas, Granville high school will be far from quiet as the bouncing sound of basketballs will fill the air.

On Dec. 27 and 28, the Granville High School Gym, will be filled with teams and supporters of high school basketball for the 38th annual Granville Holiday Basketball Tournament.

Varsity and junior varsity teams from Granville, Burr and Burton, Hadley-Luzerne and Arlington, Vermont, will compete. The event is once again sponsored and organized by American Legion Post #323. It is one of the longest running and most popular holiday tournaments in the area.

Action on Tuesday will begin with JV games at noon and 1:30 p.m. Varsity games will finish out the day in the evening at 6 and 7:30 p.m. The winning teams will meet for the title and losing teams of the first day play each other in the consolation games on day two at the same times.

In the opening round, the Granville Golden Horde will be matched up against the Burr and Burton Bulldogs from Manchester, Vermont. It will be a battle of teams with the nickname Eagles in the other first round game when Arlington meets Hadley-Luzerne. Hadley-Luzerne is coached by Granville native Gary Wilson.
The players each get a T-shirt for competing. Trophies will be awarded to the top three teams.

The Golden Horde are off to a fast start this year as they are 3-0 coming into this week’s Adirondack League games. Hadley-Luzerne is also playing well early in the season with a 4-1 mark. Burr and Burton is traditionally a top ranked team in Vermont state Division I. The Bulldogs are currently 1-1. Arlington has also often times been a powerhouse in Vermont Division IV. The Eagles will enter the tournament with only two games under their belt as they are just tipping off the season this week.

A Legion color guard will kick off each evening game. A snow day has been set for Dec. 29, in the case of inclement weather.

For the JV games, adults pay $2 and students and kids pay $1. Varsity games are $3 for adults and $2 for students and kids.

The Legion Riders will host a concession stand, with hot dogs with meat sauce, onions and other condiments for sale. Pizza slices, candy bars, sodas, water and Gatorade will also be available.

The money raised goes to projects and scholarships that the Legion does including the American Legion Baseball Tournament that is held every year.

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