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Barlow faces a tough road in their holiday hoops tournament

BOYS BASKETBALL - Barlow Trail Classic feature four top-10 teams

The Barlow Trail Classic has a top-flight field for this year's post-holiday boys basketball tournament, making it one of the elite events in the state.

The eight-team Classic will be held at Barlow High School from Thursday to Saturday, Dec. 27-29 with plenty of intriguing matchups waiting in the bracket. No. 3-ranked Sunset (7-1) is on the opposite side of the bracket from the host Bruins, who have raced through their nonleague schedule unbeaten.

'Our schedule so far hasn't been as competitive as I had hoped,' Barlow coach Tom Johnson said. 'But I know we'll get some stiff competition at the tournament. It's our final opportunity to get ready for league.'

The Bruins open the tournament against Grants Pass (2-3), but is in line for a tough road to the championship game with a likely semifinal showdown against Thurston (5-1) - ranked No. 4 in the Class 5A coaches poll.

'We'll get three games in three days, and it gives us a chance to sharpen up our offensive execution,' Johnson said.

Also, a headliner for the tournament is No. 7 Roosevelt, which reached the Class 5A title game last season.

Centennial is also hosting an eight-team tournament for the first time with a field that includes local foe Reynolds.

'We're usually out of town after the holidays, but I thought we could host a tournament and see how it goes,' Eagles' coach John Poetsch said. 'We hope it gives us a chance to win some ball games before league play starts.'

The Mount Hood Conference begins its league schedule Friday, Jan. 4.

Gresham will be hosting an eight-team girls tournament with Reynolds and the host Gophers hoping for a rematch of last year's holiday finale in which the Raiders pulled out a hard-fought one-point win. The Gresham tournament features a strong local connection with six of the eight teams coming from within the Portland-Metro area.

'We try to make it a fun tournament over the holidays, and if you have family in from out of town it gives them a chance to watch the kids play,' Gresham coach Brian Hills said.