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Minooka teams headed to new destinations for holidays

With the exception of one school, it is status quo for local boys and girls varsity basketball teams during the holiday season in 2013.

While the rest of our local schools are headed to familiar destination, the Minooka boys and girls are entering holiday tournaments they’ve not entered before. The girls, who in years past would be playing in the Oswego Holiday Classic by now, will instead play in Lincoln-Way East’s Medieval Classic starting next week. They’ll play twice there, against Andrew and Lincoln-Way East, on Monday.

“The main reason we switched is that Oswego tournament runs through this week, and we have finals this week,” Minooka girls coach Ray Liberatore wrote in an email this week. “Typically, [the Medieval Classic] runs after Christmas – exception this year – and I like the idea of not being in school while we are playing.

“For two years, we actually did both the Oswego tournament and the Edwardsville [tournament] after Christmas, but being away a long way from home a couple days wasn’t something we wanted to continue doing.”

Minooka’s boys have been no strangers to bouncing around between holiday tournaments in the wake of the dissolution of the local Winter Classic several years ago. They played at Hinsdale South last winter. This year, they’re headed to the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament, a massive event hosted by York. Game 1 for the Indians is Dec. 26 against Highland Park.

“We’re looking forward to that. It’s a 32-team tournament, and some of the best teams in the state are there,” Minooka boys coach Scott Tanaka said this preseason. “It will be a great opportunity for us to play against some top-notch competition.”

Four local boys teams – Coal City, Morris, Newark and Seneca – are headed back to Plano for its 51st annual Christmas Classic. Newark has to get through a play-in game Monday; Coal City, Morris and Seneca all received byes and won’t open at Plano until Dec. 26.

The Morris girls are back at the Ottawa Christmas Tournament, which begins Friday. The Redskins will play in the tournament’s first game at 3 p.m. that day against Lincoln-Way West.

I’ll have full previews of both the Ottawa and Plano tournaments later this week.

Two local girls teams will appear, as they’ve done for years, at the Lisle Holiday Cage Classic. Second-seeded Coal City and Newark will open Dec. 26 against Chicago Christian and Illiana Christian, respectively.

Seneca’s girls are headed back to rural Peru for the St. Bede Lady Bruin Christmas Classic. The Lady Irish will start there Saturday with games against both St. Bede and Princeton.

One Gardner-South Wilmington team is already well underway at its holiday event. The Lady Panthers are scheduled to finish play at Iroquois West’s Raider Holiday Hoops Tournament today. GSW’s boys will face Marquette on Dec. 26 in their first game at the Marseilles Holiday Tournament.

Now that you know where our locals are literally headed for the holidays, you know where to find out where they may figuratively headed this season.

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