The big hoops news in the Midlands is, course, the start of the Chick-fil-A Classic and the companion Carolina Challenge Showcase at Richland Northeast. Two area teams are currently in Myrtle Beach for the CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational, commonly known as the girls Beach Ball Classic.
But other Midlands programs hit the road this week in quest of holiday hoops, as well. The Dreher boys and Columbia girls open tournament play at Ninety Six High on Thursday. Dreher, Greenwood Christian, Tamassee-Salem and host Ninety Six make up the boys round-robin field. Unbeaten Dreher (8-0) plays two games on Thursday, one on Friday and one on Saturday.
But the headline out-of-town story is the trip to Bristol, TN by the top-ranked, defending Class 4A state champion Dutch Fork girls. The Silver Foxes (6-0) declined an invitation to return to Myrtle Beach this season, opting instead for a spot in the 15th Annual Doc Maples Holiday Hoops Invitational at Tennessee Highs Viking Hall. This is no low-profile event. In fact, eight of the top 25 teams in the ESPN Power Rankings are entered. DF is at No. 16.
The Silver Foxes open against Pearl-Cohn of Nashville on Thursday. Alaina Coastes, DFs 6-foot-5 senior star center, has back in action and is averaging 16.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in her first two games of the season. Sydney Shull (12.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.8 spg), Rose Robinson (6.7 ppg), Morgan Williams (6.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and KyAire Daniels (6.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.4 spg) helped keep the Foxes rolling in Coates absence.