All the presents have been opened, the eggnog is gone and the Christmas tree needles are dropping faster than the Vikings' playoff chances.
But don't think that holiday festivities are over quite yet. Another season gets under way this week as numerous lakes area high schools play host to holiday tournaments.
One of the most notable tournaments is the Brainerd boys' basketball Holiday Classic Wednesday and Thursday. It's the first time in more than 25 years that the Warriors have hosted a holiday tournament.
Brainerd forward Landon Stanfield drove to the net in a game this season. Brainerd Dispatch/file photo
Many coaches look at the experience of traveling to play in a tournament as a way to help team bonding. Warrior boys' coach Matt Urbanek decided to host a tournament this year because he wanted to give his players and fans two more home games and to also avoid additional travel expenses.
"With having your own tournament you get to sleep in your own bed," Urbanek said. "It's also an advantage to have the fans come in and watch us in our own gym. Families won't have to travel so it's a better situation for the whole program.
"We are in an era of budget cuts and it gets to be expensive to travel and stay overnight. With having this tournament and bringing in teams maybe we can make a little money."
The Warriors, led by Landon Stanfield's 22 points per game average, will take on St. Paul Arlington 7:30 p.m. Wednesday while Benilde-St. Margaret will face St. Michael-Albertville at 5:30 p.m.
The Staples-Motley girls' basketball team lost to Crosby-Ironton earlier this season but look forward to the Brainerd Holiday Classic. Brainerd Dispatch/file photo
"The teams coming in are pretty diverse and it gives fans a chance to see teams from different parts of the state," said Urbanek. "These are teams we'd never see if we didn't play them in a holiday tournament."
At halftime against St. Paul Arlington the Warriors will add to the festivities by paying tribute to Brainerd basketball alumni.
"This is just a small way to express our appreciation to them," Urbanek said. "Brainerd basketball has a good tradition going back a long way. It's also good for the current players to see that they come from a tradition and that they are upholding something."
The Brainerd girls' basketball team will also hosting a tournament, starting Tuesday and ending Wednesday. The Warriors open against Park Center 7 p.m. Tuesday with Park Cottage Grove playing Staples-Motley at 5:30 p.m.
Lakes area holiday tournaments
Brainerd Holiday Classic, Dec. 28-29
Crosby-Ironton tournament, Dec. 27-29
Aitkin Quarterback tournament, Dec. 27-28
Little Falls Holiday tournament, Dec. 29-30
Brainerd Holiday Classic, Dec. 27-28
Pierz Holiday tournament, Dec. 27-28
Little Falls Holiday tournament, Dec. 29-30
Little Falls Holiday tournament, Dec. 27-29
Wadena-Deer Creek Holiday tournament, Dec. 27-29
Brainerd Holiday Classic, Dec. 27-29
On the ice, the Warriors girls' hockey team will again host an eight-team tournament at Brainerd Area Civic Center Tuesday through Thursday. Brainerd will face Moose Lake/Willow River in the opening round 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Other teams competing are Bemidji, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, New Richmond, Wis., Shakopee and Webster, Wis. Bemidji is ranked eighth in Class 2A and Shakopee is the 10th-ranked team in 1A.
The Aitkin Quarterbacks boys' basketball tournament should be one of the best in the area, boasting two of the top area teams in the Pequot Lakes Patriots and Pillager Huskies.
The unbeaten Patriots, 4-0, open against the McGregor Mercuries 6 p.m. Tuesday while Pillager, 4-2, takes on host Aitkin at 7:45 p.m.
Pequot Lakes and the Huskies could be on a collision course and could meet in the championship game Wednesday.
A meeting between these two teams could be a high-scoring affair. The Patriots are averaging 71 points a game, led by Jesse Fischer's 12.8 points a game. Jon Parker and Tucker Sheley are both averaging close to 11.0 points per game.
The Huskies, meanwhile, are averaging 63 points and possess one of the area's top scorers in Joe Stoll, who's averaging 21 points per game.
So if you've had your fill of food, tinsel and Bing Crosby Christmas tunes, go out and fill up on some high school sports, there's plenty to choose from.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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