Bishop Gorman boys basketball coach Grant Rice remembers the days when Las Vegas was a mecca for holiday-time hoops.
For 26 years, the Holiday Prep Classic drew many of the nation’s top high school teams to the area each December. But when the Clark County School District stopped sponsoring the massive event after the 2002 edition, no tournaments filled the void.
Enter the Tarkanian Classic.
The second annual tournament tips off today at Bishop Gorman, and thanks to the addition of a prep school division, it quickly has become one of the must-see Christmastime events for prep basketball aficionados.
“This is what we envisioned when we started the tournament, bringing a high level of basketball to Las Vegas,” said Rice, the event’s co-director. “I’m extremely excited about the growth we’ve had from year one to two.”
The Platinum Division features Rice’s Gaels, who open at 5 p.m. today against Lynwood (Calif.), along with defending tournament champion Mater Dei (Calif.). The Monarchs, led by Arizona signee Stanley Johnson, are three-time defending state champions and meet Foothills Christian (Calif.) at 6:30 p.m. today.
Three-time defending Utah 5A state champion Lone Peak, California Division II state champion Redondo Union and Northern California power Bishop O’Dowd, led by class of 2015 standout Ivan Rabb, also will compete.
The Platinum Division final is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Bishop Gorman. The title game for the Gold Division, with games at Gorman and Faith Lutheran, is at 1:50 p.m. Saturday at Gorman.
Three of Friday’s games from Orleans Arena will be televised on CBS Sports Network (Cable 333). Findlay Prep takes on Prime Prep (Texas), led by standout senior guard Emmanuel Mudiay, at 5 p.m., followed by the Platinum Division semifinals at 7 and 9.
Findlay Prep, which suffered its first loss on Dec. 11, opens against Atlanta Sports Academy at 8 tonight at Gorman. The Pilots also will meet Montrose Christian (Md.) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Gorman.
“One of the things we always look at is trying to improve our visibility and letting the community in Las Vegas know this is a team they can get behind,” Findlay Prep coach Jerome Williams said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge to see if we can match up with some of the better teams.”
■ HONOR ROLL — Faith Lutheran’s Vernon Fox was named the Division I-A state football coach of the year after leading the Crusaders to their first state title.
Moapa Valley linebacker Justin Hughes was named the I-A defensive player of the year, and teammate Mat McDermand claimed lineman of the year honors. Desert Pines wide receiver/defensive back Tim Hough, a UNLV commit, was a first-team pick on offense and defense.
For the complete Division I all-state teams, visit Nevadapreps.com.
■ HARRIS NAMED PLAYER OF YEAR — Calvary Chapel senior middle blocker Deja Harris was selected the Gatorade Nevada Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.
The 6-foot-2-inch Harris had 395 kills, 64 blocks and 42 aces this season, helping the Lions (29-5) reach the Division III state semifinals. Harris, a San Diego State signee, now is eligible for the national player of the year award.
■ RECENT COMMITMENTS — Moapa Valley football player Mat McDermand made an oral commitment to UNR. Findlay Prep forward Jonah Bolden, a native of Australia, committed to UCLA.