Pope High School will host the Southeast Basketball Academy Atlanta Hoop Festival again this season.
The pre-Christmas showcase, which enters its seventh season, will be held Dec. 20 and feature 12 metro-Atlanta teams matched up for six games inside the Hound Pound.
Six Cobb County teams are scheduled to compete, including Kell, Sprayberry, Hillgrove, McEachern, Pope and Walton. Each local team will be pitted against one of six teams from outside the county.
“We’re really excited about the group of teams we have coming in,” SEBA director William LoPresti said. “There are a number of teams that have been involved in it for a few years like Blessed Trinity, Sprayberry and Berkmar, but we also a few new teams, like Norcross and South Paulding.
“Then, there are teams like Hillgrove and Walton, which are two good teams coming back after a few years’ absence. It’s good to have all of these programs and players and coaches represented.”
The marquee game of the day will likely be 8:30 p.m. nightcap between Norcross and Walton. The Blue Devils advanced to the Class AAAAAA semifinals last year, while the Raiders reached the second round.
Norcross returns its top scorer in Ricky Madison, while Walton brings back its go-to wing player, Air Force commitment Nick Wells.
The last time Walton participated in the SEBA Festival was in its inaugural year of 2007, when the event was held at the Cobb County Civic Center.
“William’s a good friend of mine, and I told him that if there was a date available in our schedule, that we’d join up with him again,” Walton coach Joe Goydish said. “Plus, it’s local. We had a date open and William matched us with someone good to play, so it should be exciting. Norcross is a talented, athletic and well-coached team. We’ll have to be ready against them.”
Kell will face St. Pius X at 1 p.m. to lead things off, followed by Sprayberry-Blessed at 2:30 p.m., Hillgrove-Berkmar at 4 p.m., McEachern-South Paulding at 5:30 p.m. and Pope-South Gwinnett at 7 p.m.
This will be Sprayberry’s fifth time in the event, while Kell participated in 2012. McEachern will be playing for the third time, and it will be Pope’s fourth time competing.
“It’s a chance to play a different team every year in a tournament atmosphere,” Sprayberry coach Marc Carver said. “It’s a good crowd. with college coaches looking. on and it’s a great event. It’s local, and that’s a plus as well.”
Carver likes the idea of Cobb County teams matching up against other metro-Atlanta programs.
“We have some great coaches and players in Cobb County, and we take great pride in having good basketball teams,” he said. “It’s nice to see how we all stack up against some other metro-Atlanta schools. It’s a fun event.”
Hillgrove will be making its first return to the event since making three straight appearances from 2008-10, and coach Ed Morris is looking forward to his team’s matchup against Berkmar.
“The past couple of years we’ve been invited to some out-to-town tournaments around the same time, so (SEBA) didn’t fit our schedule,” he said. “It worked out for us this season. It’s good that it’s in our backyard and you get a good game out of it. LoPresti and his guys do a good job with getting good matchups and good competition for the event before the (Christmas) break.”