ELYRIA - The girls basketball season opens Friday night in a big way.
Four area teams gather at Elyria High School for the ninth annual Lorain County Holiday Classic, a two-day invitational the host Pioneers have won every year.
It could be different this time.
Admiral King, coming off its best season in four years, and Keystone`s tall Wildcats open the tournament at 6 p.m. Elyria, which has won 16 straight classic games, takes on Vermilion at about 7:30.
The winners meet for the championship at 7:30 p.m., Saturday. The consolation game tips off at 6. An all-Division I final would create an interesting encounter between the Admirals and Pioneers and their high-scoring guards.
Kinesia Thorpe, a 5-foot-8 senior, averaged 17 points a game as Admiral King posted a 14-6 record and finished second in its Lake Erie League Division last season. Honesty King, a 5-5 senior, led the Pioneers in scoring with 15.4 points per game on the way to a 12-11 season.
But neither team is a shoo-in despite Vermilion losing three of its top four scorers to graduation. Among them was Jessica Neiding, a 6-1 post, who averaged about 10 points and 10 rebounds a game.
Coach Anjie Caffarel`s Sailors return Anne Hamilton, a 5-11 junior forward who was among their top scorers last season, along with point guard Katie Finley, a 5-5 senior point guard, and guard Katie Swinehart, a 5-7 junior.
And Keystone is tall and experienced, even though three of its returnees are three-year starters as juniors. They are Erin Gallagher, 6-2 post; Chloe Irish, 5-10 post, and Taylor Bell, 5-6 guard.
Elyria and Admiral King will also have some height on the floor. The Pioneers have 5-10 Tess Sito and 6-1 Tai Dotson, both juniors, to go with Darcy Warden and Stephanie Littlejohn, both 5-8 seniors. The tallest player in the tournament is the Admirals` Sharde Little, their 6-3Â½ junior forward.
The junior-varsity teams meet in the identical format at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, and at 6 and 7:30 p.m. on Monday.
WHAT: Ninth Annual Lorain County Holiday Classic
WHERE: Elyria High
THE MATCHUPS: Admiral King vs. Keystone at 6 p.m. Friday, Elyria vs. Vermilion at 7:30. Winners meet at 7:30 on Saturday. Consolation game at 6:30.
TICKETS: $6 adults, $4 students
JUNIOR VARSITY: Same format 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and 6 and 7:30 p.m. on Monday.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.