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Fresno Holiday Invitation Takes A Hit--(Dec. 18, 1998)

The Fresno Bee reported on Wednesday that the McLane High boys' basketball team had advance to the second
round of the Holiday Invitational Tournament.  But they in all likelihood were going to have to take a bye for their second round opponent because their scheduled opponent, Banning, had to withdraw from the tournament. when coach Stan Smith was seriously injured in an auto accident.

The tragedy left a hole in the tournament bracket that the Holiday Invitational officials were scrambling to fill, including the first-round game with McLane.  "McLane will have a game, but right now we don't know who it will be against," Hoover athletic director Buzz Nitschke said Wednesday. Fresno Christian will fill the open spot Monday, Nitschke said. Immanuel and Central Valley Christian were also contacted. If it is a school not among the 16-team field, the fill-in will not have to pay the tournament entry fee.  Another possibility for Wednesday's scheduled game would have been to have one of  the four teams playing in the two tournament openers. Hoover and Sanger played at 3 p.m. at Fresno City College on Wednesday and Fresno played an Australian team at 3:30 p.m. at Fresno High.  We don't have the results, but we'll try to get them.

Regardless of the opponent and regardless of who won those games,  the tournment organizers were assured that McLane would still advance, Nitschke said.  Because of the circumstances, Central Section commissioner Jerry Laird has waived the schedule limit (which includes a maximum of three tournaments) for any team that stepped in to fills the spot vacated by Banning. 

The Fresno Holiday Invitational is not the biggest tournament in the Central Section, and it doesn't have the most high profile teams; that's probably the Buchanan Tournament which was won by Clovis West, which defeated Washington Union and DeShawn Stevenson (6'-5" Jr. SG/SF) in an upset win last week.  But the "HIT" as it is known, still has arguably one of the three best teams in the Valley in Clovis West, Washington and Edison are playing in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic and won't be around over the weekend.  

One side of the bracket includes Clovis West (third last week in the Bakersfield Coca-Cola Shootout), Central (which lost to Clovis West in that third-place game) and Roosevelt (which won the Sanger Kiwanis Tournament). The tournament format has four games at Fresno City College and four games at Fresno High today and Friday; and six games at Fresno City College and two games at Fresno High on Saturday and Monday. The championship game will be Monday at 7:45 p.m. at Fresno City College.

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