University of Windsor Christmas basketball tournament returns next weekend

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Following a two year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 64th annual University of Windsor High School Boys Basketball Christmas Tournament returns next weekend.

The tournament is set to get underway on December 9, running through the December 11, at the Toldo Lancer Centre.

Lancer basketball assistant coach Barry Amlin says it's huge to be able to come back, and bring back high quality basketball at the high school and prep level.

"For those of us who use the tournament as a recruiting tool, it's a great chance for us to get those kids on our campus," he continued. "And obviously now with the opening of the Toldo Lancer Centre it's a tremendous opportunity for us to showcase that new facility."

Officials say this year's edition of the tournament will feature a new and exciting format, where fans will see a division with the traditional high school teams competing, as well as a division that showcases some of the top prep teams in Canada. 

Both division will split their games between the new TLC gym and the Dennis Fairall Fieldhouse. 

The local representatives for this year's tournament will be the St. Anne Saints and Holy Names Knights. 

From outside the region, Ursuline College from Chatham-Kent, Oakwood Collegiate from Toronto, and Sarnia Northern return to the tournament to compete for the title. Rounding out the competitors is J.F. Ross from Guelph.

Amlin says having one of the longest running high school tournaments in the province is unique, in the fact that normally teams have to pay a significant entry fee to play.

"We have a number of high school tournament committee members that work tirelessly throughout the year, so our tournament has no entry fee for these teams. We cover their hotel rooms for the one or two nights they're here, we provide a banquet, the kids get a t-shirt. So outside of those teams' cost to actually get here there's no additional cost," he said.

He says having two facilities means they're now able to play two games simultaneously, and they're doing things a little bit different this year.

Amlin says there will be a six team high school tournament on Friday, and the first half of Saturday morning.

"And then the second half of Saturday and Sunday we're bringing in eight prep schools from throughout Ontario, and also Edge School from Calgary, Alberta is going to be coming in to participate in the prep side also."

The local representative will be the Kennedy Prep Clippers , who are the reigning tournament champions, claiming the title in 2019 before transferring to the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association. 

Also competing in the showcase are the London Basketball Academy, Cali Prep from Durham, Tri-City Prep from Kitchener, Inspire Academy from Vaughan, New Horizon from Burlington, and Victory Prep from Brampton. 

The traditional high school bracket will be competing for the tournament trophy, while the prep teams will participate in a showcase format as they take a holiday break from their respective leagues.

Current Lancers Ben Mascarenhas, Brayden Amlin, Xavier Ochu, Quinn Carey, Thomas Kennedy, and Najee Brown-Henerson have all participated in the tournament.