Prior to the Maine Principals’ Association’s policy of a five-day maximum for exhibition games, there used to be many holiday tournaments held in the state during Christmas vacations.
There was some debate on allowing three to five dates before settling on the five dates and allowing a team to play as many games as desired on each of those days. Teams also can play one additional date if they get a bye in the February prelim week.
Many teams use three or four of the five dates for preseason exhibition games to get ready for the upcoming season, so this doesn’t leave many dates for the holiday tourneys.
Before this MPA rule was put in several years ago, schools decided how many exhibition games they would play. When I was coaching at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor in the late 1980s, some years we played as many as 16 exhibition games.
We held our preseason and Christmas tournaments where we played three days and held them at the Bangor Auditorium. We also took part in the Portland High School Holiday tourney at the Portland Expo, which was a four-day event during Christmas vacation.
We also went to Waterville and Cony preseason events.
When I was coaching at Bangor High during 1975 to 1977, Bangor hosted a Christmas tourney for teams in the Greater Bangor area. Bangor, Bangor Christian, Brewer, Hampden, Hermon, John Bapst, Old Town and Orono took part in the three-day event at the Bangor Auditorium.
Each team played one game a day and that gave those teams three games on the floor used for the basketball tourney in February.
Many other schools held events similar to the one in Bangor as few teams played regular-season games over Christmas vacation. These events were excellent fundraisers for host schools.
Currently, with the long distances some teams have to travel, especially with the new five-class format, regular-season games requiring longer trips are scheduled during the vacation week.
Over the last week, I learned of just four upcoming tourneys being held over Christmas vacation:
— The Capital City Classic at the Augusta Civic Center on Dec. 27-28. It features 36 teams, 18 games, 14 countable Heal point games and four non-countable exhibition games. There are 11 boys games and seven girls games.
The Deering and Bangor boys and girls will play each other on Tuesday, Dec. 27, and both games will count toward the Heal points. This cuts down the travel for both schools and allows the four teams and other teams to play a game on the Class AA North tourney site.
— Portland High School is holding its annual Holiday Boys and Girls Red Claws Christmas Basketball Showcase on Dec. 26-29 at the Portland Expo. There are 28 games and includes 31 Maine teams (22 boys, nine girls) and a boys team from New Hampshire, New York and Connecticut.
Some games are countable Heal point games and most of the Maine schools are South teams, which allows them to also get time on a tourney floor, the Expo.
— Central Maine Community College in Auburn is holding its annual Girls Holiday Tournament, which is a six-team event on Dec. 27.
— The Maine Goldrush Basketball Camps are sponsoring two tourneys at the Augusta Civic Center. The girls tourney is an eight-team, seven-game single elimination event on Dec. 29 and the boys tourney follows the same format on Dec. 30. Twenty-eight girls teams and 38 boys teams will compete in these events.