GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 27, 2012

Lots on the line in Bank Gloucester Holiday Tournament

Running the Floor
Nick Curcuru

---- — All four participants in this week’s seventh annual Bank Gloucester Holiday Tournament may be off to slow starts in the early season, but it is those slow starts that make this tournament so intriguing.

Gloucester (1-3), Manchester Essex (0-3), Hamilton-Wenham (1-2) and Bishop Fenwick (1-3) are all desperate for a win, and all four teams will scratch and claw for every inch of the floor to get those two wins for a tournament championship.

Defending tournament champion Manchester Essex (0-3) will square off with 1-3 Bishop Fenwick in the early game on Friday (6:00 p.m.) while Gloucester (1-3) will meet Hamilton-Wenham (1-2) in the night cap (7:30 p.m.). The winners will meet on Saturday in the finals (7:30 p.m.) while Friday’s losers will play in the consolation round prior to the championship game (6:00 p.m.).

The season is not even a quarter of the way through yet, but there is already so much at stake for these teams in the tournament.

Whichever team is crowned tournament champion on Saturday will have put the pieces in place for a season turnaround, but the team that finishes up with an 0-2 record in tournament play can most likely kiss its tournament prospects good bye. There is much to be gained and so much to lose for all four of these teams.

While all four teams are off to slow starts in the young season, all seem to stack up pretty evenly, and one would be hard pressed to identify a favorite in the field.

Manchester Essex, the defending tournament and Cape Ann League Small Champions, will look to break into the win column this week after a surprising 0-3 start.

Aside from a 78-69 loss to Rockport last week, the Hornets have been on the wrong end of a couple close games losing on a buzzer beater against Amesbury and falling in the last minute against Lynnfield on opening night. Manchester Essex’s three losses have come by a combined 13 points.

Bishop Fenwick enters the tournament on an identical three game losing streak since winning its season opener.

Friday’s opening game is a clash of styles as Manchester Essex will look to push the pace while Bishop Fenwick plays a primarily half court offense.

In the later game, Gloucester and Hamilton-Wenham are looking to get back on the winning track.

Gloucester will send a much improved, but young and inexperienced team to the floor, a team that has also been on the wrong end of a few close losses in the young season.

The Fishermen, who last won the tournament in 2008, took Saugus and Swampscott to the brink and picked up its lone win against Winthrop. Gloucester’s youth allows it to play fast and aggressive and its offense has been balanced early on as a different player has led the team in scoring in each of its first four games.

Hamilton-Wenham, like Gloucester, also sports an inexperienced team as it was hit hard by graduation. The Generals picked up a win over Masconomet this season sandwiched in between losses to Triton and Newburyport.

Parity is at a premium this weekend and a season turnaround is on the line. Expect some intense and hard fought basketball games which should make for another exciting Holiday Tournament in Gloucester.

At a Glance What: The Seventh Annual Bank Gloucester Holiday Tournament Who: Manchester Essex vs. Bishop Fenwick (6:00 p.m.), Gloucester vs. Hamilton-Wenham (7:30 p.m.) Where: Benjamin A. Smith Fieldhouse When: Friday (first round) and Saturday (consolation and championship) Did You Know?: Manchester Essex is the defending tournament champions, Gloucester last won the tournament in 2008.