Area basketball fans can get into the Christmas spirit a little early today as the three-day, eight-team 2012 CCS Christmas Classic tips off at Claiborne Christian School in West Monroe. The Crusaders and Lady Crusaders host girls and boys teams from Ouachita Christian, West Ouachita and Downsville this weekend.
"We are trying to crank it up again. Before I got here we had a good tournament, and we are trying to reinvent that," CCS head coach Robert Mitcham said. "We have four good teams this year and hope to have eight next year."
Mitcham said it will be a challenge to play Downsville for the third time and West Ouachita a second time within the last month.
"It is what you have sometimes," Mitcham said. "It is what it is. When Downsville finally got their charter and Athens consolidated with other schools, we had some schedule openings and Downsville was there to play us."
The CCS boys (7-7) and girls (8-8) have been a bit up and down this season, but are both 2-0 against Downsville, and the Crusaders own a 53-49 win over West Ouachita while the Lady Chiefs beat the Lady Crusaders on Nov. 19, 57-11.
The Lady Crusaders lost four of their first five games by three points or less, yet have found their way as of late, winning five of their last six games overall.
"We are competing in the fourth quarter now," Mitcham said of the Lady Crusaders. "We are learning how to win."
The boys round robin tournament includes OCS (1-1), West Ouachita (6-5) and Downsville (0-5). The girls teams will include: OCS (2-3), West Ouachita (6-2), and Downsville (0-5).
Senior Zach Osbon is leading the CCS boys with 24 points and 10 rebounds per game. Osbon has given the team a strong inside presence while also providing emotional sparks when needed.
"Zach has really come on strong this year," Mitcham said. "He has taken on more of a leadership role for us, which has been good for our team."
The OCS boys are led by JP Pierce (17.5 ppg) and Jimmy Starnes (15 ppg). The OCS Lady Eagles are led by Kelsey Booth who is scoring 14.2 points per game. Tournament admission is $5 each day.
Games will begin at 4 p.m. today and Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday.