It's a break for holidays, but hoop teams still will be busy


The holiday break is most often spent with family and friends. Schools are out, relatives are in town and there is plenty of eating, drinking and relaxing -- unless you happen to be a basketball player.

The holidays also provide plenty of basketball tournaments. Next week will be highlighted by two fairly large and prestigious events the Joe Schram Holiday Basketball Classic and the Eastside Prep Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

The Schram event features two eight-team events, one for the girls and one for the boys, at St. Francis High. Those tournaments will run Monday through Wednesday, at the same times, in two separate facilities on campus.

The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, which also runs the same three days, has been expanded to 24 teams and will be held at Eastside Prep and Menlo School. The event is to support the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation, Inc.

In addition to the host schools, the girls-only tourney will include Sacred Heart Prep, Priory and Menlo-Atherton among the three eight-team brackets that include teams from the Central Coast Section, North Coast Section, Southern Section, Sac Joaquin Section, Central Section, Oakland and San Francisco.

The Elite bracket features Eastside Prep, defending 4A state champ Argyle (Texas), Cicero-North of Syracuse, N.Y. (alma mater of UConn All-American Brianna Stewart), Arizona state D-2 runner-up Seton Catholic, Mitty, Berkeley, Arroyo Grande and Valencia.

Eastside Prep (5-2) opens against Valencia on Monday while Menlo (6-2) hosts Kipp Summit Academy, both at 6 p.m. Sacred Heart Prep (7-0) and Menlo-Atherton (6-2) tip off Monday at Menlo School at 10:30 a.m. Priory (4-3) will face University (SF) at noon at Eastside Prep.

The Elite bracket championship match will be Wednesday at 6 p.m., with the two other bracket finales set for 4:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., all at Eastside Prep.

On the first evening of the tournament, the teams will attend a Stanford women's basketball game as the Cardinal hosts Chattanooga. On the second evening, a banquet for all participants and sponsors will be held. Kate Paye, a former Stanford and professional basketball player, and the current assistant coach of the Cardinal, will be honored.

While basketball is the focus, an equally important component of this unique tournament is the incorporation of the nationally known Susie's Cause "Save Our Parents" Program. The athletes, coaches, families and spectators will learn about colon cancer, preventive efforts, and the importance of early screenings and detections to combat the second-leading cause of cancer deaths.

The tournament was started up in 2011 by Eastside Prep girls coach Donovan Blythe, who was motivated by his successful battle with colon cancer.

In Mountain View, the Palo Alto boys (5-2) will open on Monday against San Ramon Valley at 4:30 p.m. Other teams in the tourney include Rocklin, Encinal, Leigh, Mountain View, Davis and St. Francis.

In the girls' tourney, Pinewood (4-2) will face Rocklin on Monday at 4:30 p.m., with Palo Alto (5-2) taking on North Salinas at 7:45 p.m. Should the Vikings win, they'll face the Skyline-St. Francis winner on Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. Both championship games will be Wednesday at 7:45 p.m.

In action Wednesday night, Menlo jumped out early 15-1 lead with 17 points in the first quarter and held off host Notre Dame-Belmont, 40-33, in the championship game of the Steve Geronomi Old School Basketball Tournament.

The Knights were led in scoring by tournament MVP Hannah Paye, who finished with 16 points, with Sam Erisman adding 12. However, it was the team's overall defense, led by De'Jeane Stine and Olivia Pellarin, that led the way for Menlo as the Knights held the Tigers to only 16 points through three quarters. Notre Dame-Belmont (3-5) missed its first 15 shots from the floor.

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports

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