By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A prep basketball extravaganza begins today in Sonoma County with four tournaments getting underway.
By the time the champions at Piner, Rincon Valley Christian and Windsor receive their trophies Saturday night, 48 games will have been played.
The tournaments at Piner and Windsor are for boys teams while Rincon Valley Christian has a bracket for boys and another for girls.
The Sonoma County Classic at Piner is being renewed for the 31st time and boasts one of the better fields in its history.
Heading the cast is Mt. Eden. The Hayward team is 8-0. Nearly perfect are Healdsburg at 9-1 and Cardinal Newman with an 8-1 mark.
The Greyhounds and Cardinals will meet in the first game of the Classic at 4 p.m. Mt. Eden drew Rancho Cotate (1-7) in the 5:30 p.m. game.
The host Prospectors (6-4) play Acalanes (2-8) at 7 p.m. followed by Santa Rosa (3-6) vs. Eureka (4-5) at 8:30 p.m.
“A team’s going to have to play three solid games to win the tournament,” Piner coach Mike Erickson said. “Mt. Eden’s record tells you they’re quality, and I think this is one of Newman’s better teams.”
Erickson said his Prospectors are improving. They’ve won four straight and are 3-0 at home. They’ve been idle since Dec. 15 when they defeated visiting Windsor, 45-37.
Windsor (6-4) will play Northgate (2-5) at 8:30 p.m. to open their tournament. In the earlier games, Maria Carrillo (3-5) and Palo Alto (6-1) meet at 3 p.m. followed by McKinleyville (7-4) vs. Vanden (8-3) at 4:30 p.m. and Analy (5-5) vs. Freemont Washington (5-5) at 6 p.m.
“It’s going to be a good tournament,” Jaguars coach Travis Taylor said. “The teams from out of the area are all solid. I’d say we’re probably the biggest underdog.”
Windsor is coming off a third-place finish in the Brett Callan Tournament last week at Casa Grande.
Analy, the favorite to win the Sonoma County League, might be without 6-foot-6 forward Geddy Dukes. He’s been sidelined with a foot fracture and is questionable.
Still, the Tigers will be tall up front, thanks to a pair of sophomores. Six-foot-10 Erik Poulsen and 6-foot-5 Chance Ortega both start.
“We have the makings of a very good team,” coach Brett Page said. “For different reasons, we’ve yet to get all the pieces together at one time. I don’t think we’ve had the same starting line-up two games in a row this season.”
If Dukes doesn’t play in the tournament, he should be ready for the SCL. The Tigers open against Petaluma on Jan.2.
At the Rincon Valley tournament, there will be 12 hours of action each day. Games get underway at 9:30 a.m. and the eighth game tips-off at 8 p.m. The host Eagles play the final two games today. The girls meet Bay School at 6:30 with the boys facing Sonoma Academy in the nightcap.
More Empire teams will be in action outside Sonoma County. Fort Bragg is hosting boys and girls tournaments with a format similar to the one at RVC.
Also starting today, 10 area girls teams will be participating in the West Coast Jamboree at venues around the Bay Area. Among the teams that will be in action are Montgomery, Casa Grande and Santa Rosa.
In addition, the St. Vincent boys begin play today in the Head-Royce Holiday Tourney while Empire girls will be competing in Las Vegas (Ukiah and Willlits) and Phoenix (Sonoma Valley).
The Montgomery and Casa Grande boys began four day tournaments Wednesday. The Vikings are in Torrey Pines and the Gauchos are playing at Marin Catholic.