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1998 Reebok Holiday Prep Classic:
Hoop Dreams. . . Press Release--(Dec. 13, 1998)

This year marks the 22nd Annual Reebok Holiday Prep Classic in Las Vegas.  We don't know when they came up with the moniker "Hoop Dreams,   Las Vegas Style"  but we think it's much more than that.  Don't confuse this tournament with the movie of the same name this one will feature some of the top teams in the country, 54 of them, from 15 States, D.C. and Canada, playing 106 games from December 19-23 at Durango and Cimarron-Memorial High Schools in Las Vegas, Nevada.   We'll be doing our own previews of some of the top players and teams (we've already done reviews of most of the SoCal schools attending) both before and during the games, but for now, here's the official press release. 

Las Vegas-- Nationally ranked boys' high school terams Oak Hill, Mt. Zion, Dominguez, Mater Dei and Mountain View are all coming to Las Vegas as clear favorites in a field of 54 high school basketball teams entered in the 22nd Annual Reebok Holiday Prep Classic, presented by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  But the talented fivesome will face serious, if not as well known challenges along the way in the Classic, to be held December 19-23 in two gyms each at Durango and Cimarron-Memoiral High Schools in Las Vegas.

The big five teams will line up against squads from 15 States, the District of Columbia and Canada in what is the nation's largest in-season boys' prepa basketball tournament.  Many of the top players from several states will gather in Las Vegas for the prestigious annual hoopfest, seeking to be seen and wanting to see what prepa hoops are all about in different parts of the country.

Oak Hill begins the season ranked No. 2 in the National Prep Basketball Poll, while Mt. Zioin is No. 2,  Dominguez is No. 12, Mater Dei is No. 21 and Mountain View is starting the year in the No. 25 slot.

Oak Hill Academy, of Mouth of Wilson, Va., went 29-2 last year, finishing No. 5 in the Natinoal Prep Basketball Poll.  The Warriors, who have won the Reebok Holiday Prep Classic three times (1986, 1992, 1994) are coached by Steve Smith, whose 13-year record at the school is 375-29.  The Warriors appear loaded with talent once again, led Travis Watson (6'-7" Sr. F) who, at 240 pounds, averaged 10.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game last year.  Oak Hill has four strong transfers in Ron Slay (6'-7"  Sr. F), from Nashville Pearl-Cohn,  Steve Blake (6'-2" Sr. G) from Miami Senior High, Cliff Hawkins (6'-2" Jr. G) from Potomac-Dumfries, Va., and Abdou Diame (6'-9" Jr. C) from Senegal.  Oak Hill has the highest winning perentage of any team in the 22 year history of the Reebok Holiday Prep Classic.  In six previous trips to Las Vegas, the Warriors were 25-4 (.862 winning percentage).

Oak Hill opens tourney play Saturday, Dec. 19, at 7:25 p.m. in the Durango Main Gym against the winner of an earlier game between Fontana (Gary Holmes, Joseth Dawson, et. al) and  Boyd County (Kentucky).

No. 3 Mt. Zion Christian Academy, 26-5 last season, is from Durham, N.C. and won the Reebok Holiday Prep Classic the last two years, the only team which has won the Classic in consecutive years.  The Warriors scored a 63-59 victory over Harvard-Westlake (Studio City) in the 1996 championship game, and last year, Mt. Zion beat Rice of New York City, 83-74 in the title game.  Coach Joel Hopkins' Warriors have gone 132-36 during his seven-year tenure at the North Carolina school, including a 15-5 mark in the four visits the school has made to the Reebok Holiday Prep Classic.

Mt. Zion's 1996 Classic MVP, Tracy McGrady is now with the NBA's Toronto Raptors, and last year's tourney MVP, Corey Hightower, is playing for No. 1 JUCO Indian Hills Community College.

This year, Mt. Zion has  Kenny Booker (6'-8" Sr. F) and Marcus Williams (6'-7" Sr. F) and transfer Marques Daniels (6'-6" Sr. G) from Edgewater-Orlando.  Mt. Zion will start its road to a possible three-poeat title on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 3:10 p.m. against Golden Valley  High School, from Merced, California, which went 23-8 last year.

No. 12 Compton Dominguez [Ed: No. 4 in the USA Today Poll], was 26-5 last year and seven transfers give coach Russell Otis what he terms "11 starters."  [Ed.: Actually, it's more like 14]. The Dons boast a tall lineup which features Tyson Chandler (7'-0" So. C).  Dominguez opens tourney play Satuifday, Dec. 19, at 4:35 p.m. in the Durango main gym against Skyview High School from Thornton, Colorado, which was 16-7 last season.

No. 21 Mater Dei from Santa Ana, California, is a prep powerhouse, coached by the legendary Gary McKnight, who has an enviable 16-year coaching recordd of 475-43 with the Monarchs.  Mater Dei, 21-5 in   five previous appearances in the Classic, is deep and talent4ed with a host of underclassmen, but the Monarchs are led by seniors Mike Bayer (6'-7" Sr. F) and Derek Mansell (6'-3" Sr. G).  Both were all-league picks and Bayer was the league's MVP last year.

Mater Dei  starts this year's tournament on Saturday, Dec., 19, at 1:45 p.m. in the Durango main gym against Rangeview, from Aurora, Colorado, which had a 17-5 record last season.

No. 25, Mountain  View from Mesa, Arizona, wa fourth in last year's Classic, and coach Gary Ernst's Toros have gone 66-2 for the last two years.   The defending Arizona 5A State Champinos are a veteran team with six returning senior lettermen, led by Tanner Shell (6'-5" Sr. SF/SG) who has signed to play at ASU.  The Toro's first game in Las Vegas will be Saturday, Dec. 19, at 4:35 p.m. in the Cimarron-Memorial auxiliary gym against the winner of an earlier game between Las Vegas Eldorado and Newbury Park,  California [Ed: which twice defeated Simi Valley and was last year's winner of the Marmonte League].

Reno's Galena High School, 28-6 last year, is entered along with eight Southern Nevada teams.  Area teams who will be playing are:  Bishop Gorman (19-11), Cimarron-Memoiral (13-13), Clark (14-15), Durango (16-13), Eldorado (9-14), Green Valley (17-9), Las Vegas (27-8) and Palo Verde (23-3--JV's).  Galena finished fifth and Las Vegas High was 10th in last year's Reebod Holiday Prep Classic.

Other teams ranked regionally in the West Coast on the pre-season National Prep Basketball Poll who will be playing in the Classic are Fresno Washington Union 24-7 last year and ranked No. 7,  along with Los Angeles Westchester, 30-3 last year, and ranked No. 8.  [Ed: who is this "National Prep Basketball Poll" anyway???].

Tournament play starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19, in all four gyms. No high school games are allowed to be played on Sunday in Nevada, and action Monday and Tuesday will start at 9:30 a.m., finishing at approximately 11 p.m.   Wednesday's final day will be played exclusively at Durango High School, and will start at 12:30 p.m. and continue until the final game concludes at approximately 9:30 p.m.

We've already posted the brackets and schedules for each of the brackets, but in case you need an easy link again to them, here they are:

Bracket I
Bracket II
Bracket III
Bracket IV
Bracket V
Bracket VI
Complete List
of Participating Teams

All-tournament passes, priced at $35 each for adults and $18 for students, are on sale daily in the tournament office at Durango High School. Single-day tickets, good for all games at both tournament venues, are $10 each for adults and $5 for students and will be sold only at the door.  For more Reebok Holiday Prep Classic information call (702) 799-5850.   If you need additional media information, contact Dominic Clark at (702) 735-7123.

See you there.

The Swish Award
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