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Colmone Classic bigger and better

Boys basketball

SPRING VALLEY — The 2017 Colmone Classic at Hall High School promises to be bigger and better.

The annual pre-Holiday Hoopla is expanding from eight teams to 12 this year for the first time in its 34-year existence, with 19 games spread out over an eight-day period. Last year’s tournament had 16 games over six days. Games will be played in both the main and auxiliary gyms.

Newcomers to this year’s field include locals Bureau Valley, Princeton and St. Bede along with Wilmington. While BV and St. Bede have played here before, both for the last time in 2014, this will be Princeton’s first venture to the Colmone Classic.

Princeton coach Michael Fredericks said it was a tough decision leaving Plano after recently returning there, but is excited to come to the Colmone.

“We loved the competition at Plano. We played teams that we never saw otherwise. The same is true at the Colmone Classic, however,” he said. “It will be nice having the short trip over to Spring Valley. The Colmone Classic has increased the number of teams. There will be some good competition there as well. We hope to bring some larger crowds over to the Colmone Classic.”

Hall coach Mike Filippini is excited with the new field.

“There will be plenty of good basketball for the fans of the Illinois Valley to watch next week. I thought the field last year was the best it’s ever been since I’ve been at Hall (17 years) but this year is probably even better,” he said.

“Anytime you get teams like Rock Falls, Kewanee, Princeton, Fieldcrest in a tournament, you have a strong field, but when you also have Hall, St. Bede, BV, Mendota, that just adds to a great field. Every pool will have good teams in it, and whoever comes out of here with the championship will have played four really good teams.

“There are no byes in the field for this year; almost every game will be competitive. Usually most tournaments early games are blow-outs until you separate the good from the bad. The Colmone will have competitive games every night. You’re going to have to play four good teams and four good games to win it all.”

Rock Falls coach Brad Bickett, who brought his Storm teams to the Colmone when he coached at Bureau Valley, brings his Rockets back to defend their title. They beat Kewanee 50-49 for last year’s championship.

“It’s a great tournament field, and expansion has brought some fantastic teams to add to the competitiveness and depth of the tourney,” he said. “The Hall staff does an amazing job putting together a great week of basketball and hospitality. Should be an outstanding week of hoops.”

Rock Falls (5-1) heads up the White Pool, joined by Kewanee (2-4) and Fieldcrest (2-1).

The host Red Devils (3-2) are paired up with Wilmington (1-0) and Pontiac (1-3) in the Red Pool.

Princeton (5-1) and St. Bede (2-4) will play in the Blue Pool with Plano (1-1).

Bureau Valley (5-1) heads the Green Pool which includes Marquette (2-0) and Mendota (2-4).

Pool pay will be held the first four days of the tournament with cross-over rounds contested Thursday and Friday. There will be six varsity games played out on the finals day on Dec. 16 starting at noon, with the championship set to tip at 7:30 p.m.

“The Colmone is stacked with talented teams. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out,” St. Bede coach Brian Hanson said.

There will also be 19 games played out at the sophomore level, including all four local schools with pool play on Dec. 9 and the tournament wrapping up Dec. 14-16.

• Notes: The Colmone Classic will be Princeton’s lone Christmas Tournament, with the Tigers idle until Jan. 5 at tourney’s end. Hall and St. Bede will play at the Marseilles Christmas Tournament (Dec. 26-29) and Bureau Valley returns to the Warkins Classic at Erie (Dec. 27-30). ... The Colmone Classic, formerly known as the Red Devil Holiday Tournament, started in 1974 under the direction of the Classic namesake Frank Colmone, the former Hall athletic director.

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