Tourney offers teams final tune-up before league play

Playing a three-day basketball tournament between Christmas and New Year’s may not seem to be the easiest feat to pull of — especially when you are running an eight-team bracket each for both boys’ and girls’ prep teams.

But the three games all 16 teams will play in the Gryphons’ Holiday Shootout — a tournament that closes out today at Crystal Springs Uplands — will act as a springboard of sorts as the teams get ready to start league play in the next week or two, according to Crystal Springs boys’ basketball coach Ned Diamond.

“It gives us a chance to play teams that we normally don’t get to play,” Diamond said. “In our bracket, it’s a chance to bring in teams that made the CCS playoffs and match up against them.”

Diamond’s Gryphon’s are off to a 6-1 start after opening the tournament with a 51-42 win over Bay School on Tuesday.

“It was a good start,” Diamond said. “We didn’t get done the things we wanted to in the game, but we’ll take it.”
Uplands played St. Francis Catholic of Watsonville on Wednesday and will face either Hillsdale or Mid-Peninsula today.

“St. Francis is a loaded team again this year,” Diamond said. “And they lost seven players from last year’s team. I saw them play last year and said, ‘It would be great to have a team like that in our tournament,’ so we are really excited to have them here. Hillsdale is a solid CCS playoff team and Mid-Peninsula has one of the best players in the section in Lydell Cardwell.”

Playing against that caliber of competition is exactly why Diamond scheduled the tournament for during the holiday break.

“It’s a great warmup for us before we start league play,” Diamond said. “So instead of having to practice on Monday after we get back from break before facing Sacred Heart Prep to start league play, we have a head start on leaguelike play.”

In addition to Sacred Heart, the Gryphons will also have to contend with Menlo, King’s Academy and Pinewood in a stacked West Bay Athletic League action this year.

Unfortunately, for the Crystal Springs’ girls team, they will not get a chance to get that final tuneup before league play. The Gryphons were severely bitten by the injury bug last week and only had four healthy players able to suit up for Tuesday’s opener against International and had to forfeit all three of its tournament games. But there will be three local teams — Hillsdale, Sequoia and Capuchino — who will all make serious runs at capturing the tournament championship today.

“It was very unfortunate for them and for the teams they were going to play,” Diamond said. “But they just couldn’t field a full team this week.”

The championship games for each bracket are scheduled for this afternoon with the girls’ title game slated to tip off at 4 p.m., followed by the boys’ around 5:30 p.m.

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