All the holiday cheer means vacation basketball tournaments are here.
Three River Rival girls basketball teams will be playing in holiday tournaments — the Pentucket girls (3-0) will travel north to Maine to play in the York Annual Christmas Basketball Tournament, while both the Newburyport (2-1) and Triton girls (1-3) will go to fellow Cape Ann League opponent Ipswich for the Institution for Savings 9th Annual Girls Holiday Tournament.
All the teams get under way tomorrow. Newburyport and Triton play each other at 5 p.m. in the opening round with the winner advancing to play in the championship match against either Ipswich or Manchester Essex.
The Sachems will take on the host team in York at 3 p.m., and the winner will advance to play in the championship game of an all-New Hampshire semifinal match pitting Dover against Spalding.
Having started fairly hot out of the gates, the Sachems will get a good idea where they are in the early stages of the regular season. According to coach John McNamara, the York tournament typically invites one strong team from Massachusetts with schools like Melrose, Reading and Woburn having previously represented the state. And in recent years the York program itself has been a strong state title threat in Maine, having won the state title as recently as 2010.
“York is a very good program, they called, and it just so happened the Masconomet tournament was changing format, downgrading a bit, and we needed a tournament, so it worked out,” McNamara said. “And playing teams we don’t see is kind of neat.”
The defending Mass. state champs will be without one of their three captains, Alex Moore, since she had her tonsils removed recently. The Sachems will also have another major obstacle to overcome — no shot clock. In the state of Maine in the girls game, there is no shot clock.