It's the holiday season and what that means for six TIMES NEWS area boys teams and six area girls teams is it's tournament time.
Next week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday tournaments will tip off. The Slatington Rotary Tournament is behind held at Northern Lehigh and the Lehighton Girls Tournament is being hosted by the Lady Indians with the same four schools in each.
At Slatington, Palmerton faces Jim Thorpe in the opener at 6:30 on Monday, with Northern Lehigh hosting Lehighton in the nightcap. The losers will meet at 6:30 on Tuesday in the consolation with the championship game to follow.
At Lehighton, Palmerton and Jim Thorpe will battle in the first semifinal on Monday at 6, with the Lady Indians and Bulldogs meeting in the second contest. The losers will play in the consolation game at 6 with the championship game to follow on Tuesday night.
The Weatherly boys will travel to West Side Tech on Monday night to defend their championship and open the Tom Fenney Tournament. The Wreckers meet Lackawanna Trail in the opener at 6 with Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech takes on West Side at 7:15. The losers meet in the consi at 6 on Tuesday with the championship to follow.
Pleasant Valley is the other boys team who is tourney-bound as they participate in the Hazleton Christmas Tournament.
On Tuesday, Bangor and Council Rock South square off in a 6 p.m. semifinal, while the Bears meet host Hazleton in the other semi at 7:30.
The consolation game and championship take place on Wednesday at 6 and 7:30, respectively.
The Panther Valley girls will take part in the Senator Rhodes tournament at Mahanoy Area on Monday and Tuesday. Shenandoah Valley meets North Schuylkill at 5 and Mahanoy Area battles the Panthes at 7 on Monday. Panther Valley will battle Shenandoah at 5 on Tuesday and Mahanoy faces North Schuylkill at 7.
The last area team to take part in a tournament is the Tamaqua girls, who play in the Southern Lehigh tournament next Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Lady Raiders battle Emmaus at 5:30 with Pottsgrove taking on Southern Lehigh at 7 in the semifinals on Tuesday. The losers will meet in the consi at 5:30 and the winners for the title at 7 on Wednesday.
BIG LOSS ... Panther Valley's boys basketball team suffered a devastating loss last week when starting center Brock Mitchell was injured in an ATV accident.
Mitchell, who was the Panthers' leading scorer and rebounder through three games, will be lost for the season.
According to Panther coach Pat Crampsie, Mitchell suffered both leg and ankle injuries that are going to need significant time to heal.
"The good news is that Brock's long-term outlook is very good," said Crampsie. "He's going to need rehab, but doctors expect him to make a full recovery. It will take time, but the outlook is good."
With Mitchell out of the line-up, Panther Valley has dropped its last three games, including a nine-point loss to Jim Thorpe on Tuesday night – a team the Panthers beat by 18 points with Mitchell in the line-up.
But Crampsie said that he won't let his players use the injury has an excuse.
"Our goal is still to get to 11 wins and qualify for Districts," said Crampsie. "No one in this locker room is going to feel sorry for themself.
"We feel sorry for Brock and his family, but we won't feel sorry for ourselves because no one else is going to feel sorry for us. We need people to step up and pick up the void that Brock's absence is going to create."
TITLE TEAMS ..... Three local basketball teams won the championships of the respective tip-off tournaments that they competed in.
Both the Marian girls' and boys' basketball teams laid claim to tournament championships. The Fillies defeated Lourdes in the Lourdes Tournament, winning 37-33. Danielle Tristani led the way with 10 points. In the Panther Valley Tip-Off Tournament, the Colts knocked off Mahanoy Area 50-46 behind 27 points from tournament MVP Chris Barletta.
Last but not least, the Northern Lehigh girls' took home the title in the Fleetwood Tournament. The Lady Bulldogs beat Fleetwood 41-34. Tournament MVP Aimee Oertner led all scorers with 15 points, while teammate Sonya Josephson added 14.
30-SOMETHING ..... Celeste Robinson may have be every bit of one of the reasons on why the Jim Thorpe girls' basketball team remain stands undefeated so far on the regular season.
The junior has hit double figures in the scoring column in all six of the Olympians' games this season. In addition, Robinson has been able to hit for an amazing 30 points in each of the last three games.
The only other individual to do better than Robinson's combination of 30-point games is Lehighton's Jordyn Homyak. Homyak went off for an area's best 35 against ES North Tuesday night.
Weatherly's Alicia Panzarella (28 points), Tamaqua's Amy Zehner (26, 24 and 23 points), Northern Lehigh's Aimee Oertner (26, 22 and 21 points) and Pleasant Valley's Kasey Meckes (26 points) all have come close but did not quiet surpass lucky number 30.
STREAK HALTED ..... Recently, the Panther Valley boys' basketball team put an end to a 19- game losing streak against Jim Thorpe when it came out on top with a 60-42 win in the consolation game of the Panther Valley Tip-Off Tournament back on Dec. 11th.
It was the first time since Feb. 2, 2001 that the Panthers were on the brighter side of a victory against the Olympians. In that game nearly nine years ago, Panther Valley scored a 61-46 win over Jim Thorpe, in which PJ Yurick led the Panthers with a 16-point performance.