Christmas Day has come and gone, which means that it’s back to work for high school basketball teams both locally and across the nation. But, 22 of those teams will flood the Neosho area for this weekend’s Holiday Classic tournament. Hosted every year in the days following Christmas, the tournament summons teams from around the country to wrap up the new year with a trophy.
According to Teresa Jennings, more than 6,500 fans will flood the stands this weekend.
“We’re hosting 16 boys teams and 8 girls teams,” explained Jennings, who serves as the Administrative Assistant to the Athletic Director for the Neosho School District. “We have teams here from both the Kansas City and St. Louis areas, plus local teams. And, from Ohio, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.”
This is Jennings’ 14th year helping host the event, adding that the tournament gets bigger and better every year.
“We’ve had the entire gym filled for the slam dunk contest,” Jennings continued. “I’d say we average somewhere in the neighborhood of about 800 to 1,000 people in the afternoon to evening time.”
The tournament is held annually between Christmas and New Year’s–combining friendly competition with holiday excitement. This year marks 65 years, many of those years hosting players who would later go on to play at both the college and professional levels. Notable athletes include NBA players Masheem Thabeet, Malik Monk and Aaron and Andrew Harrison along with Shekinna Sticklen, who plays for the Connecticut Sun.
The 65th annual Holiday Classic will continue on Friday and into Saturday — featuring both boys’ and girls’ tournaments, a three-point shoot-out, and a slam dunk contest.