There's nothing more fun than traveling and playing basketball, right?
Well, maybe.Memphis Central (Tenn.)
left Tennessee Dec. 8 to play in the 'Iolani Invitational in Hawaii, and from all accounts had a great time. The Lady Warriors started off by playing a team from China, edged Northern California power Archbishop Mitty 55-52, and then gave No. 1 Brea Olinda a battle before losing 74-58.
And then the girls, coaches and parents got a week to lay on the beach and have a good time.
Sounds good so far, right?
Well, then things got a little tricky. The team had trouble getting a flight out of Hawaii and wound up arriving in Phoenix for the very tough Nike TOC after 12 hours of travel, just in time for the banquet Friday night. Saturday morning was fine, as Memphis Central knocked off another strong NorCal team in Bishop O'Dowd, but even with Sunday off, the Lady Warriors were running out of steam.
Three straight losses followed – to No. 2 Long Beach Poly, unranked Monarch out of Colorado, and unranked St. Mary's of Stockton, Calif. And that last game was a 90-64 thrashing by a team that most observers felt didn't have nearly the same amount of raw talent as Memphis Central.
But being on the road for 15 days had taken its toll, and by the time the Lady Warriors got back to Tennessee Dec. 23, they were more than ready to sleep in their own beds. They also now had four more losses, and were gone from the Xcellent 25
, perhaps never to return.
No. 2 Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
started off the Christmas vacation with a trip to Phoenix where they played Mt. Lebanon of Pennsylvania (nationally ranked at the time), Memphis Central (the same), No. 3 Mater Dei and No. 1 Brea in a five-day span. The games were intense, physical and demanding, and when the Jackrabbits headed home Dec. 23, they barely had time to celebrate Christmas before they were off to Northern California for the West Coast Jamboree, which began Dec. 27.
There they ran into Eastside Prep, Bishop O'Dowd, Georgetown out of Texas (now 18-3) and local favorites Carondelet. Poly hung on to beat Carondelet by two, but clearly the Jackrabbits didn't have the juice they did 13 days earlier when they headed to Arizona.
So though travel is fun, and so is basketball, there is a limit – and maybe it's a good idea not to cram too much of both into such a short amount of time.
* * * * *Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.)
and Lake Taylor (Norfolk, Va.)
didn't have to travel far for a matchup between two nationally ranked teams, as they met in the Boo Williams Holiday Classic in Hampton.
Last year, the pair played three times, with Lake Taylor winning twice, and the Lady Titans won the first collision of the 2010-11 season as well, eking out a 39-34 victory. But there is an asterisk: 6-foot-3 Elizabeth Williams, bound for Duke and considered one of the best, if not the best, player in the Class of 2011, did not play for Princess Anne, as she hurt her knee in a 58-44 win over Riverdale Baptist of Maryland.
Williams is expected to miss two to four weeks with her injury, which means she should be more than ready if the two, as expected, meet again in Virginia's postseason.
* * * * *
Some anticipated holiday matchups didn't occur because of the weather. Seton Keough of Maryland couldn't make it to the Sandra Meadows Classic in Duncanville, Texas, which stole a little interstate luster from that gathering of Texas talent – which was won by Fort Bend Hightower (Missouri City, Texas)
, an upset victor over Westbury Christian.
And No. 9 Neptune (N.J.)
is still stuck on just two games after winter kept the Scarlet Fliers grounded after Christmas. Rumor has it they're trying to fill in one of the blanks with a game against No. 10 Potter's House Christian of Florida, but it's hard to put together something like that on short notice.
Still, that one would make up for some of what girls' basketball fans missed over the holidays.