EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 2, 2013

Time for ADs to give up Christmas tourneys

It’s time.

The Greater Lawrence Boys Christmas Tournament needs an injection of life and a new direction. In other words, it’s time for the participating athletic directors to give up their leadership to one of the best local events of the year.

It’s simply too much work, running this popular event. Case in point: A few weeks ago, I emailed an athletic director about hosting a preseason basketball jamboree (like the successful one at Lynn Classical) with the hope of raising a few thousand dollars for The Eagle-Tribune Santa Fund. The response was — and I’m paraphrasing here — “Are you kidding me? ... Thanks, but no thanks!”

I liken the boys tournament to The Feaster Five Road Race in that it draws all walks of life. The difference is that The Feaster Five became too big for the Merrimack Valley Striders to run so they brought in the pro of pros to direct it, Dave McGillivray. And the rest is history (see 10,000 entries).

There are people in this region who both love basketball and this event — North Andover Youth Services head Rick Gorman comes quickly to mind — that could be this tournament’s much needed leader.

The two best boys games of the tournament were played in the quarterfinals (North Andover vs. Andover) and semifinals (Central Catholic vs. Andover). Both were incredible games. That’s wrong.

The best games should be the semifinals and finals, which should be a sellout.

Big events are supposed to build excitement, not wane it. The championship game was never a game. Lawrence isn’t in Central’s class just yet.

The fact that the matchups are picked out of a hat, literally, is amateurish.

Let the participating coaches seed the tournament and schedule the games accordingly. I would expect the semifinal games would be competitive and worth watching. And the championship would be a true championship, with a standing-room-only sellout crowd watching.

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