Columbia High School is set to play host to the 2012-13 Second Annual Nike Boys' Basketball Invitational Tournament beginning on Wednesday, December 26 at the Columbia High School gym.
The 16 team field for the tournament includes five state championship teams from four different states, one Final Four entry, three Elite 8 finalists and four teams that reached the playoffs or the second round.
Columbia (AAA) and Whitefield Academy (A) are the 2012 state champions from Georgia while Meridian (MS, 6A), Wenonah (AL, 5A) and Bartow (FL, 5A) bring defending state champions from other states.
Other teams competing include Auburn (AL), Alcovy, Butler, Chamblee, Crisp County, Greater Atlanta Christian, Greenforest Christian, Jonesboro, Norcross, Norland (FL), and Tucker.
Columbia won the 2011-12 tournament with a 44-37 win over Eagle's Landing on its way to a third consecutive Class AAA title. The Eagles first game of the tournament is against Auburn (AL) at 7 p.m. on the opening day of Wednesday, December 26.
Alcovy, an Elite 8 state tournament participant in 2012, opens against fellow Elite 8 entry and tournament returnee Crisp County at 10 a.m. on opening day.
Class AAAA Final Four participant Jonesboro meets Greenforest Christian at 11:30 a.m. and tournament returnees Butler and Chamblee meet at 1 p.m.
The 2:30 p.m. game on opening day pits a pair of 2012 state champions in Bartow (FL) and Whitefield Academy with Alabama state champion Wenonah taking on Greater Atlanta Christian, an Elite 8 participant in 2012, at 4 p.m.
Tournament returnees Norland (FL) and Tucker tip off at 5:30 p.m. Tucker reached the tournament semifinals before losing to Columbia a year ago and finishing third with a win over Martin Luther King Jr. The Tigers and Norland met in the second round with Tucker slipping out with a 40-37 victory.
Two-time defending Mississippi state champion Meridian returns to the tournament looking to improve on their first appearance which included a first round loss to Tucker. The task will not be easy as Meridian takes on perennial Georgia basketball power Norcross in the 8:30 p.m. nightcap.