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January 6, 2013

12 steps to fix the Christmas Tourney

How to fix the Greater Lawrence Christmas Tourney

Any longtime fan who attended this year’s 38th annual Greater Lawrence Boys Christmas Basketball Tourney realizes it is in need of fixing.

Attendance was way down and it had the feel of just another event, not the tourney which had for decades had been the envy of basketball tourneys across New England.

As someone who used to sneak out the side door during Sunday Mass to attend the games and has had the supreme pleasure of covering it the last 26 years, I hate to see it struggling.

Here are some possible remedies to what ails the venerable tourney:

1. The Central Catholic dilemma

The 800-pound gorilla is Central Catholic. The Raiders have become such a force that realistically a lot of years if you could choose between Central and the other seven teams in the field you’d take Central in a heartbeat.

The numbers don’t lie. The Raiders have won the 8-team tourney 13 times in the last 17 years.

Do they add excitement like a Duke or throw a wet towel over things with their dominance?

I’d go with the former. You boot Central and it loses a lot of luster. And let’s not forget Andover won seven straight times in the tourney’s early years.

But how do you add some spice to a far too predictable tourney?

2. Crown two champions

It’s time to shake up the format.

I’d go with two four-team brackets, the Kelleher Division and the Licare Division, in honor of the tourney founders and former tourney directors.

One would be the top four seeded teams the other the next four teams. The tourney director and a small committee could do the seeding.

3. Add teams, get rid of teams

It’s also time to shake up the field. I’d go hard after St. John’s Prep, which didn’t play in a Christmas Tourney this year. Another option would be Lowell, who reportedly would be very willing to join the fray.

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