#ff0000;">Updated: May 9, 2017
Bloomington-Normal, IL – Two state champions and #ff0000;">five additional state trophy winners highlight the 2017 State Farm™ Holiday Classic field. The 39th annual high school basketball tournament tips off Dec. 27-30, and will be one of only two holiday tournaments in Illinois to feature multiple state champs.
“The State Farm Holiday Classic had another successful event in 2016 which is evident by the number of teams who excelled in their respective state tournament series,” said Tournament President Dan Highland. “28 teams in this year’s field won Regional championships, which shows the competitiveness of our field year in and year out.”
Played across four venues in Bloomington-Normal, the Holiday Classic is the largest holiday tournament in Illinois, and one of the largest, coed high school holiday basketball tournaments in the nation. 2017 marks the 19th year with State Farm as title sponsor. The tournament is divided into Small and Large School brackets for both boys’ and girls’ teams, and includes a two-day Shootout for Special Olympics teams.
Top of the class girls’ tournament on tap for 2017
Once again, the Holiday Classic will be considered as one of the most competitive girls’ tournaments in the state. State champions Annawan (Class 1A) and Morton (Class 3A) highlight two loaded fields that feature some of the best teams in the state.
In addition to the Bravettes from Annawan, the Small School girls’ bracket will feature the Class 2A 2nd Place finisher Bloomington Central Catholic and 4th Place finisher Camp Pt. Central/Augusta Southeastern. Half of this 16-team field won Regional titles, including Brimfield, Danville Schlarman, Kankakee Bishop McNamara, Peoria Christian and Rock Falls.
The Large School girls’ bracket also features eight teams who won Regional titles, and has placed both teams in the Class 3A State Championship game each of the past three years. The Lady Potters of Morton have now won three consecutive state titles, while Rochester took home 2nd Place in 2017 and 2015, with Chicago North Lawndale finishing 2nd in 2016. #ff0000;">Class 3A fourth place finisher Chicago Simeon (replacing Rock Island) joins the field for the first time with other Regional winners Normal U-High, Peoria Richwoods, Springfield and Wheaton Warrenville South. Canton is the other lone newcomer to the girls’ field in 2017.
Addition of Winnebago adds to already strong boys’ tournament
The Small School boys’ bracket is highlighted by Kankakee Bishop McNamara, fresh off their 3rd Place finish in Class 2A. This bracket welcomes perennial powerhouse Winnebago and legendary coach Joe Murphy, who is closing in on 750 victories in his 34-year coaching career. Other Regional champs include Annawan, Aurora Christian, Quincy Notre Dame, Rock Falls and Stanford Olympia.
All 16 teams return to the Large School boys’ bracket in 2017. Chicago North Lawndale and North Chicago both competed for a Sectional title this past season, and highlight a field which features Regional winners Joliet Central, Rockton-Hononegah and Wheaton Warrenville South.
“Since 2009, the Holiday Classic has had 14 participating teams go on to win a state championship,” said Manager of Tournament Operations Dave Oloffson. “The experience teams receive in Bloomington-Normal over the holidays goes a long way in preparing them for the postseason.”
More than just basketball
The State Farm Holiday Classic will again host the annual Ron Knisley Memorial Shootout in conjunction with the 64-team varsity tournament. The Shootout features various Special Olympics teams from across the Midwest, and is scheduled to run Dec. 29-30 at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center.
Off the court, the Classic Tournament, Inc. has raised nearly $100,000 for the Holiday Classic Scholarship fund, and has awarded $48,000 in scholarships to graduating student-athletes who participated in the tournament. The 2017 scholarship award winners were announced in April. In addition, the tournament has donated nearly $40,000 the past seven years to participating high school basketball programs in McLean County.
For a complete list of teams, go to http://theclassic.org/team-list/ and follow the tournament (sfclassic) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.