Holiday basketball tournaments are highly popular these days and they come in all shapes and sizes. Like sand in Florida, they are everywhere.
Thanksgiving starts the holiday tournament season despite being only a short break from the classroom. Both boys' and girls' teams have tournaments and schools have the option to play locally or travel to other areas of the state.
"Kids don't want to sit there and practice over the break, they want to play games," said Island Coast coach Greg Coleman. "Some families like to go out of town for the holiday, but some families stay home. Thanksgiving tournaments have a family atmosphere. Not only that, kids come home from college and it'salways good to see alumni return to the gym."
Mariner's Katie Adams drives to the basket on Estero's Andie Wagner in Tuesday’s game. The Tritons (3-5) are playing in a holiday tournament in Orlando Friday and Saturday.
Mariner, Fort Myers, Charlotte and Gulf Coast are participating in Island Coast's 10-team Turkey Shootout Friday and Saturday. It's the third year for Coleman's tournament at Island Coast, but he also ran the tournament three seasons at Ida Baker.
"You want to play teams from out of the area," Coleman said. "We wouldn't play Mariner, for instance. It's more about matching up equal teams. We play Gulf Coast, which is a rematch of the last two regional quarterfinals. They moved up a class so we don't have that rivalry this year. Fort Myers plays Community School (Naples) which was in the final four last year and Fort Myers is an established program that won a state title a couple of years ago."
The Gators hook up with Gulf Coast at 8:30 p.m. Friday and play Chaminade-Madonna Prep at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Mariner opens against Jensen Beach at 5:30 p.m. Friday and finish off with C.S. Naples at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
"I went back to the old way this year," said Coleman. "I added a JV tournament, which plays in the morning, and 10 varsity teams in the afternoon and evenings."
Admission to the Turkey Shootout is $5 per day or $8 for a two-day pass.
On the girls' side, Mariner and Cape Coral play in a holiday tournament in Orlando.
The Seahawks (2-1) play Olympia on Friday in its first of two days of competition.
The Tritons (3-5) play TFA at 6 p.m. Friday followed by Ocoee at 11 a.m. Saturday.
North Fort Myers heads south to Barron Collier to participate in Bokamper's Turkey Shootout Friday and Saturday.
That's not the end of the holiday tournament madness. Just around the corner is the much longer Christmas Tournament season. Again, there are tournaments for boys' and girls' teams.
Girls' teams play in the Queen of Palms Tournament with different brackets playing at different venues around Lee County.
That tournament is a spinoff of the City of Palms Tournament on Dec. 18-23, the most widely recognized event in Fort Myers.