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Holiday Classic Tourney Tips Off Tuesday

The 16th Annual Halifax County High School Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament opens Tuesday at Halifax County High School with a field featuring some familiar teams and one newcomer. This year’s newcomer is Durham (N.C.) Hillside High School, which will round out the field for the boys tournament. Durham Hillside will take the place of the touring HSE Joeys basketball team from Australia which competed in last year’s tournament.

Park View High School of South Hill is participating in the tournament this year, taking the place of Bassett High School, which recently withdrew from the tournament. This will be Park View High School’s first appearance in the tournament since 1994.

This year’s field for the girls tournament has undergone a change as well. The Bluestone High School varsity girls team has joined the field to replace the Bassett High School girls team, which recently withdrew from the tournament.

Neighboring border rival Person High School of Roxboro, N.C., which has been a participant in the tournament since its inception, returns to join host Halifax County High School in both the boys and girls tournaments.

The format for next week’s tournament will feature alternating girls and boys games on Tuesday’s opening day.

The girls teams will kick off Tuesday’s opening-day action with Gretna High School facing Person High in the 3 p.m. opener. In the second game of the tournament at 4:30 p.m., the boys teams from Park View High School and Person High School will face each other.

Later, at 6 p.m., the Bluestone High School girls team will face the Halifax County High School girls. In the 7:30 p.m. nightcap, the Halifax County boys team will face Durham Hillside.

The tournament consolation and championship games will be played on Wednesday, with the girls consolation game being played at 3 p.m. and the boys consolation game being played at 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday night’s session will feature the championship contests with the girls tournament championship game set for 6 p.m. and the boys tournament championship game set for 7:30 p.m.

Admission will be $5 per person each day. No passes will be honored.

This year marks the seventh anniversary of the girls tournament. The Halifax County High School varsity girls team, which won its first Holiday Classic title last year, will be trying to land its second straight Holiday Classic title next week.

The Comets girls team has made it to the championship game each year since the girls tournament was started, but did not win its first tournament title until last year. Halifax County lost to Laurel Park in 2003, fell to Bassett in 2004 and lost to Person High School in each of the next two years. In 2007, Bassett defeated the Comets in the title game to win its second tournament title.

Last year, the Comets finally managed to break the string of losses last year by defeating Bassett High School 56-47 in the tournament championship game.
Halifax County High School’s boys team broke a long dry spell in the tournament by defeating Person High School 67-61 in the tournament championship game to take the tournament title. Prior to that, the Comets had not won the tournament championship since 2004, falling to Person High School in 2005 and 2006 and losing to Bassett High School in 2007.

The Comets and Person High School have become familiar figures in the quest for the Holiday Classic Tournament title.

Halifax County has faced Person High School for the tournament championship in 11 of the previous 13 years and had defeated the Rockets on seven occasions.
The Halifax County High School Holiday Classic has produced a lot of good basketball action throughout the years.

In the inaugural tournament in1994, Bluestone edged Halifax County 62-60 in a nail-biter of a game. In 1996, the title game between Person High and Halifax County ended up in a tie at the end of regulation with the Comets going on to edge the Rockets by five points in overtime.

The 1997 title game, another contest between the Rockets and the Comets, was a dandy, too, with Halifax County edging Person High School 46-45.

In the 1998 tournament, Laurel Park and Halifax County engaged each other in a tight game with Laurel Park pulling out a 59-58 win.

The following year, in 1999, Halifax County and Person High squared off in another rematch for the tournament title with the visiting Rockets edging the Comets 56-55 in a game that was a nail biter down to the end. The 2000 tournament championship game was a good one as well with Halifax County shading Person High 52-46.

Holiday Classic championship games can hardly get more exciting than those of recent years when Halifax County and Person High School battled each other in games that were decided in the waning seconds.

The Comets edged Person High 68-67 to win the 2003 championship and repeated in 2004 by downing the Rockets 65-62 in another game that went down to the wire. The 2005 championship game continued that tradition with Person High edging the Comets 53-50 in a game that was decided in the final 20 seconds.

The most lopsided of the tournament title games came in 2007, when Bassett High School routed the Comets 75-48. Prior to that, the most lopsided tournament championship game had been the 2006 contest when Person High School defeated Halifax County 69-52.

This year’s Halifax County High School Holiday Classic will continue a long-standing tradition of Christmas time basketball action, which began in 1993 as the First Federal Savings Bank Christmas Classic.

Everything was set and ready to go that year with Halifax County, Bluestone, E.C. Glass, and Heritage representing the tournament field.

Unfortunately, a big snowstorm that swept into the area forced cancellation of the tournament.

As a result, the 1994 season marked the actual start of the affair with Halifax County, Laurel Park, Person High, and Northern Durham squaring off to determine the tournament title.

The 1994 event also marked Halifax County High School’s return to holiday tournament play after a four year hiatus.

Prior to that, the Comets played in the tournament’s forerunner, the Virginia-Carolina Christmas Classic.

For the better part of two decades, the Virginia-Carolina Christmas Classic was a staple for area high school basketball fans.

A joint venture between Halifax County High School and Person High School, which hosted the tournament in alternating years, the Virginia-Carolina Classic had its share of classic contests as well.

The last of the Virginia-Carolina Christmas Classics was in 1990, a year when E.C. Glass defeated the Comets 66-63 in the title game.

That game marked something of an unusual contest in that the team with the worst record entering the tournament won the tournament title.

Person High School won seven Virginia-Carolina Christmas Classic titles throughout the years.

Halifax County scored five title wins and Northern Durham had three. E.C. Glass’ victory in the 1990 title contest was its first championship in the holiday title.