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Greenfield’s annual Christmas tournament starts Thursday, and the last game of the night stars the two Wilson teams, Greenfield and Community Christian, facing off at 7:30 p.m.
The two Wilson teams will be joined by Neuse Christian, Cape Fear Academy, Fayetteville Academy, Raleigh St. David’s, Henderson Crossroads Christian and Greenville John Paul II. The Lions of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A Mid-Carolina Conference (4-4) and the Hurricanes of the 3-A Coastal Rivers Conference (11-1) will face off to begin the tournament at 3. The Eagles of the 2-A Coastal Rivers (7-2) will then take on the Warriors, also of the 3-A Coastal Rivers (7-5) at 4:30. The Colts of the 1-A Mid-Carolina Conference (5-5) will then meet the Saints of the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference (3-4) at 6.
The Cyclones of the 1-A/2-A Coastal Independents Conference (7-4) and the Knights (8-2), a 1-A member of the split 1-A/2-A Coastal Plain Independents Conference, will end the long night of basketball. The two met before back on Nov. 19 with Greenfield winning, 80-62. First-year Community Christian head coach Kenneth Atkinson is hoping for a different outcome.
“We’re looking forward to getting a good start to the second half of the season,” Atkinson said. “This game is a good game, because the kids know each other and they look forward to playing this game.”
The Knights are just excited to be back competing with almost a fully-loaded roster. Greenfield head coach Rob Salter said his team is fully healthy, including Dji Bailey, who he said is close to 100 percent.
“With us being healthy, we can go to our bench more and not have a dropoff,” Salter said.
This tournament will be littered with college coaches, and Atkinson said that will be a great opportunity for his younger guys who haven’t been exposed yet. He also believes this tournament is big for the program’s exposure.
“I think it benefits the school in growth,” Atkinson said. “I really think this experience is going to be good for my kids. With the kids I have that are young, it will give them good exposure they haven’t had yet.”
After CCS and Greenfield play each other, they will move on to face a field that contains, according to MaxPreps, the No. 3-ranked 3-A team in the state in Cape Fear and the top-ranked 2-A program in Fayetteville Academy. Salter said the tournament is always good for the Knights financially and he expects with the great teams coming to play, that will continue.
“Fayetteville Academy has a guard, John Michael Wright, that’s garnering lots of college looks and they’ve got it all as a team,” Salter said. “Cape Fear has size and depth that makes them really tough, so I expect some good basketball to be played.”