Shaking off a couple of curves in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, the Sonesta Seahawk Holiday Classic celebrates its 30th edition starting Monday as 14 high school basketball teams visit Hilton Head Island to compete for titles in boys’ and girls’ divisions.
Past editions have brought such future NBA talent as Steph Curry and Trevor Booker to The Nest, along with the NFL’s A.J. Green. And even though Matthew’s wrath did no damage to the facilities, other factors forced some last-minute adjustments.
With classes now in session Monday through Wednesday as hurricane makeup days, tournament games will be played exclusively during afternoons and evenings. To accommodate the adjusted schedule, Hilton Head Island Middle School was added as a third site.
In addition, The Omni was prompted to relinquish host hotel duties after suffering significant damage from Matthew. The Sonesta Resort was able to step in as both host hotel and sponsor.
Participating teams come from six states in the South and Mid-Atlantic, from as far away as West Virginia and central Kentucky.
“With this tournament, you can always count on some good teams and great individual talents,” Seahawks coach Ken Updike said. “It’s a great opportunity to see a quality basketball tournament on Hilton Head.”
The Seahawks open Monday night against Ocracoke (N.C.), which went 15-9 last season and qualified for the state 1A playoffs. Hilton Head (4-2) seeks to rebound from back-to-back losses last week, as top scorer Bryce Singleton was away at football’s Shrine Bowl.
A closely matched girls’ bracket begins Monday with Hilton Head taking on Hedgesville (W.Va.), which like the Seahawks is rising again after taking their lumps a year ago. The favorite might be Bourbon County (Ky.), which has a height advantage and is one year removed from an 18-win season.
“This year I tried to find seven teams that were as equal as possible,” said Rochester. “I think this could be as competitive of a field as this tournament has ever seen. I think everyone starts next week with a realistic opportunity to take home a trophy.”
Coach Sean Rochester’s team has lost three straight after a 3-0 start, but the losses have come by a total of seven points.
“We keep preaching to the girls that it’s the little things throughout the game that add up to a win or a loss,” Rochester said. “This tournament is a great opportunity to keep learning and improving.”
Rock Ridge (Va.) vs. White County (Ga.), 5:30 p.m. (Auxiliary gym)
Bourbon County (Ky.) vs. Morristown East (Tenn.), 7 p.m. (Middle)
St. James vs. James Madison (Va.), 7 p.m. (Auxiliary)
Ocracoke (N.C.) vs. Hilton Head Island, 8:30 p.m. (Main)
Bourbon County (Ky.) vs. Thomson (Ga.), 5:30 p.m. (Middle)
Ocracoke (N.C.) vs. Alexander (Ga.), 5:30 p.m. (Main)
Morristown East (Tenn.) vs. Batesburg-Leesville, 8:30 p.m. (Middle)
Hedgesville (W.Va.) vs. Hilton Head Island, 7 p.m. (Main)