In recent years the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, always one of the premier high school basketball events in Illinois, has evolved.
A couple of years ago tournament directors decided to expand from 16 to 32 teams in what was a somewhat controversial move. However, after two years at 32 teams, the field has been trimmed back down — to 18 teams.
Yes, a puzzling number indeed for any tournament. For fun, try bracketing up an 18-team tournament field. But participating schools were notified of the dates –– and number of teams –– this week, but without any information on the format.
“I don’t have any clue how this is going to work,” one of the 18 head coaches in the tournament questioned.
Said another coach in the field, “Have you ever heard of an 18-team tournament?”
The good news? The field of 18 teams in the 54th annual tournament is still extremely strong, though two-time defending 3A champ Morgan Park is no longer at Proviso West. Coach Nick Irvin’s Mustangs lost in the championship game of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament last year.
Stevenson, led by Player of the Year favorite Jalen Brunson, will be the headliner as the returning champ, while several other teams that will certainly be ranked when the season tips off in November include St. Joseph, St. Rita, Kenwood and Rockford Auburn.
In addition to the host school, Proviso West, the tournament field also includes Fenwick, Morton, Proviso East, Uplift, Maine South, Hinsdale Central, Providence St. Mel, St. Viator, New Trier, Homewood-Flossmoor, Hillcrest and Brooks.
The tournament will tip off with two games on Dec. 20, followed by eight games on Dec. 22 and nine games on Dec. 23. The tournament will continue Dec. 26 and conclude Dec. 27 with consolation championship, third-place and championship games.
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