HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Lopes Holiday Classic among tournaments tipping off today
High school basketball fans still hungry for holiday treats have an enticing post-Christmas buffet of games to choose from this week, with three 16-team tournaments tipping off today.
A new attraction, the Merv Lopes Holiday Classic, will cap off first-round action with a tripleheader of Hawai'i contenders against top-flight Mainland competition.
At 5:30 p.m., perennial powerhouse Punahou takes on Timpview (Provo, Utah), followed by five-time defending state champion 'Iolani playing El Toro (Lake Forest, Calif.) at 7 and Mililani against Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) at 8:30.
Timpview is Utah's defending 4A (second-highest tier) state champs. It began this season ranked No. 3 in its classification.
El Toro is a defending league champ and went 24-5 last season, advancing to the quarterfinals of the California Interscholastic Federation championships.
Montrose Christian, which has made numerous appearances in the 'Iolani Prep Classic, is ranked No. 14 in USA Today's latest Super 25 rankings.
All Merv Lopes Classic games will be held at King Armory in Kane'ohe (adjacent to King Intermediate School). When Lopes was boys basketball head coach at Kalaheo in the 1970s, King Armory was the Mustangs' home gym for practices and games.
Meanwhile, the long-standing Walter Wong Holiday Classic also tips off today with eight games at McCabe Gym.
As it has in the past several years, the 16-team field will be broken into two separate eight-team brackets, called "Saints" and "Crusaders."
Arlington (Riverside, Calif.), regarded as one of the top teams in Southern California and off to a 9-1 start, leads a group of 10 teams from the Mainland U.S., Canada and Japan. Both the Saints and Crusaders brackets will conclude with championship games on Friday.
Moanalua's Na Menehune Classic does not include any Mainland teams, but does feature 2006 state tournament participants Kahuku and Campbell.
The championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.