Tournament director William LoPresti was unable to oragnize the event ahead of time in 2011 due to a family emergency but has scheduled what appears to be four competitive games among metro-Atlanta teams Dec. 22.
The difference between this year’s festivals and the four previous ones is the change of locale. The event will be held at Pope High School instead of the Cobb Civic Center.
“Unfortunately, I had to pull the plug on it (last year) but am excited to have it back this year and it should be a real good event,” LoPresti said. “Pope is a good, natural fit and it wouldn’t be as expensive for us. Doing (the event) at a high school will allow us to put more money into the event itself.”
The marquee matchup of the four games is between North Cobb and Berkmar. The reigning Class AAAAA state quarterfinalists will tipoff at 7:30 p.m. The event will begin at 3 p.m. when Kell plays Chamblee. Lovett and Blessed Trinity will follow at 4:30 p.m., and Harrison and Pope will match up at 6 p.m.
“I’ve known (SEBA) for a while and we host their fall league,” Pope coach Pat Abney said. “Billy (LoPresti) has done a good job, and we’ve had a good (work) relationship in the past. It will be a fun day of basketball. We’ll get four good games of competition and it’s good for our school to host it.”
North Cobb (4-1) is arguably the most experienced team in the county with all five of its starters — Jordan Neff, Saxon Steele, Dennis Young-Coleman, Lee Moore and Jon Beausejour — and is the favorite to win Region 4AAAAA. Berkmar (3-2) has half its roster back from last year’s team including 6-foot-11 center Tim Rowe.
Harrison (3-3) made the state semifinals last season but took a hit to graduation and has begun a new era under first-year coach Jermaine Bigham. The Hoyas could have their hands full against Chase Hutchins, Andrew Mendel and the remaining players on the Pope roster, who are off to a solid start with a 6-1 mark.
Kell (2-5) has taken its lumps early in the season and is expecting a challenge from a Chamblee team that won its subregion last season over Marist in Class AAAA. The Longhorns do have talent behinf Grant Bryant and Jonathan Twine. Chamblee is returning four-year starter Bellamy who averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds last season.
Lovett (1-1) is a veteran team who will vie for a playoff spot out of Region 6AA while Blessed Trinity (6-2) will attempt to do the same in 6AAA with a younger group.
“It’s an opportunity for them to showcase their programs,” LoPresti said. One thing that stands out, everyone of the coaches are a real good coach. They’re not necessarily the guys with the best winning percentrages, but if you give them some players, you’ll be able to do something with them.”