Wahconah boys, Hoosac Valley girls will appear in this year's Hoophall Classic
This story has been updated to correct that Sam'i Roe will not be playing in the Hoophall Classic. Roe attens Isaiah Christopher Academy, not MacDuffie.
It just seems like it wouldn't be January without a couple of Berkshire County teams heading to Springfield for the Spalding Hoophall Classic.
This winter, one returning veteran team and one newcomer will make the trek from the Berkshires to the Birthplace of Basketball.
The Hoosac Valley girls, making their third appearance in the last four years, will join Hoophall rookie Wahcornah Regional in the field.
"We're very excited," Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. "It's a credit to our success in the last couple of years."
Wahconah will be the first game of the day on Thursday, Jan. 11. Hoosac, winners last year in the tournament, are the third game of girls' day on Friday, Jan. 12.
"We look forward to the many thrilling matchups and expect the student-athletes will thoroughly enjoy their visits to the Birthplace of Basketball and the Hall of Fame," John L. Doleva. President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame said in a statement.
Thirty-three games over four days will be played the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend at Blake Arena on the Springfield College campus.
"We continue to relish the opportunity to partner with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to elevate the game of basketball and bring forward the nation's elite high school basketball talent in this dynamic showcase event," Kenyatta Bynoe, vice president of Global Marketing and Partnerships at Spalding said in the statement.
There are four boys games on Thursday, and it all starts at 4 p.m., when Wahconah takes on defending Western Massachusetts Division IV champion Hopkins Academy.
Wahconah is coming off a trip to the Division III semifinals.
"It's a great challenge for us," Belcher said. "They're a very good team."
The first day will be capped off when defending Western Mass. Division I champion Springfield Central will play city rival Putnam.
Hoosac will play in the third game of Friday's five-game girls slate. The day starts at 3 p.m. when West Springfield will play Chicopee.
"We're certainly thrilled," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "I think it rewards the kids for their accomplishments of the last few years."
The Hurricanes, who won their fifth consecutive Western Mass. title last March, will be matched up in Friday's 6 p.m. game against Longmeadow. The Lancers are in Division II, and dropped a 65-62 overtime decision to Pittsfield in last year's Western Mass. semifinals. The Lancers lost 66-37 to the Hurricanes last year in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament.
"Now we get to play them again," Wojcik said. "I'm sure they're excited about it' They'd like to get [another] crack at us."
The night will be capped off by a game between last year's Division I champion Springfield Central and Long Island Lutheran.
The prep schools and national high school powers move into Blake on Saturday and will play the rest of the weekend.
Seven of the top eight seniors, as ranked by ESPN, will be playing in the tournament and 31 of the network's Top 100 will participate.
Kekoa McArdle, who played at St. Joseph last year, is now at Northfield Mount Hermon, and his team will play in the 9 a.m. game on Sunday, Jan.14, against Hargrave Military Academy.
Reach sports writer Howard Herman at 413-496-6253, or @howardherman
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.