August 1, 2015

33rd State Farm Holiday Classic Preview

64 things to know about the 33rd Holiday Classic
By Randy Kindred |

Santa Claus has come and gone, making way for the annual basketball invasion in Bloomington-Normal.
The State Farm Holiday Classic begins its four-day run Tuesday with 64 high school teams (32 boys, 32 girls).

That’s a lot of players, coaches and storylines. Here are 64 things to digest as the 33rd edition opens at four venues: Shirk Center, Normal Community High School, Normal Community West and U.S. Cellular Coliseum.

1. The boys Class 3A-4A bracket includes Illinois State signees Aaron Simpson of North Chicago and Anthony Beane of Normal Community.
If you’d like to see them at the same time, root for first-round victories Tuesday by North Chicago (Simpson) and Normal Community (Beane). If it happens, the star guards would square off at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Normal West.

2. Kankakee McNamara’s Khadaizha Sanders, a starting freshman point guard on the girls team, played on the boys team in junior high because her school did not have a girls team. She is averaging 20.5 points per game and scored 36 against Bradley-Bourbonnais.

3. Why leave Arizona in December to come to Illinois? Can’t answer that, but the Mesa (Ariz.) boys team has done it. We shouldn’t be surprised. The team went to a tournament in New York last December, the first time most players and coaches had seen snow.

4. Rock Falls junior guard Morgan Mammosser is a triple threat. The niece of head coach Craig Mammosser was an all-conference basketball player last year; ran on fourth-place 800- and 1,600-meter relays at the Class 1A state track meet; and was the Sauk Valley Media’s Volleyball Player of the Year this fall.

5. Steve Helton and his wife, Tara, are a team on and off the court. They are in their 12th year of coaching girls basketball together at Scott County High School in Georgetown, Ky. Steve is the head coach and Tara his assistant.

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