When packaging up the annual Holiday Hoopfest, Thomasville High School hopes to find two factors: local schools and competitive games.
THS boys basketball coach Ben Tillman thinks that was accomplished in this year’s State Farm/Seminole Wind Holiday Hoopfest, which runs today through Saturday.
“I think it’s very important for your non-conference games to be playing challenging teams,” Tillman said. “I think we’ll be able to provide both sides of that — putting a good product out there on the floor, and also not making local fans travel to watch teams play.”
Providing the local flavor along with the host Bulldogs will be Bainbridge, Brooks County, Mitchell County, Randolph-Clay and Terrell County. Cairo’s girls are also in the field.
The importance of so many south Georgia teams can’t be understated said Tillman.
“That’s one of the things also is a chance to have the fanbase not have to travel very far during the holidays,” he said. “We want them to come and watch their team play, and provide quality competition as well.”
And yet, THS also wants the Hoopfest to provide a good product on the floor. With a host of small schools, Tillman said that should happen too. Bainbridge, a Class AAAAA school, and the Syrupmaids, who compete in Class AAAA, are the lone teams not in Class A or AA.
“I think the Hoopfest will be very competitive,” Tillman added. “I think with Bainbridge being the largest school, it’s going to be very competitive on both the boys and girls side of the brackets.
“We should have quality games throughout the tournament.”
On the boys side, Randolph-Clay (4-2), which opens against Long County, and Terrell County (3-1), which opens against Brooks County and former Central assistant coach Will Lewis, are the lone teams with winning records so far this season. The Bearcats, who face Mitchell County in the first round, are 2-3 but lost to host Thomasville on Friday. THS faces Twiggs County in Thursday’s nightcap.
With just more non-region games outside of the Hoopfest before beginning Region 1-AA play, Tillman hopes the tournament provides an opportunity for his Bulldogs to grow.
“The biggest thing we’re working for is to put games back to back,” he said. “We need to have a bility to come out night after night and compete. I think with such a young team, that we’ll come out and compete one night and then not compete the next night.
“We just want our kids to continue to work hard and play hard. And that’s what we want to accomplish during the Hoopfest.”
The girls bracket features three teams with winning marks in perennial state power Randolph-Clay (5-0), which faces Twiggs County in Round 1. The other two winning teams 4-2 Mitchell County and 5-2 Thomasville will face each other in Thursday’s opening round. Other Day 1 games include Bainbridge and Terrell County, and Brooks County and Cairo.