There’s a distinct chill in the air.
The final few days of fall offer a preview of the winter that soon follows and the holiday season is upon us.
With 2016 winding down, it’s time for the 9th annual McDonald’s Holiday Basketball Tournament, sponsored by McDonald’s of Fayette County and Jamestown.
Again this year four schools, Miami Trace, Greeneview, London and Madison Plains, are taking part in the tournament, which is set to run Dec. 27 through Dec. 30.
There are actually four tournaments, one held at each of the four high schools.
The girls varsity tournament will be held at Greeneview High School on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 29 at 6:30 p.m.
London will play Madison Plains in the first game, followed by Miami Trace taking on Greeneview.
The opening round match-ups are the same for each tournament.
The girls varsity consolation game is Dec. 29 at 6:30 p.m. followed by the championship game at 8 p.m.
The boys j-v tournament will be held at London High School. The opening round is Dec. 27 at 11 a.m. and the consolation game will be held Dec. 29 at 11 a.m. with the championship game to follow at 12:30 p.m.
The boys varsity tournament will be contested at Miami Trace High School with the opening round first game Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 6:30 p.m. and the second game at 8 p.m.
The boys varsity consolation game is Friday, Dec. 30 at 6:30 p.m., followed by the championship game at 8 p.m.
The girls j-v tournament is set for Dec. 28 at 11 a.m. at Madison Plains High School.
There will be two games that day, with the consolation and championship games set for 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 30.
For the girls and boys varsity tournaments, there will be an all-tournament team, consisting of seven players, with one of the seven to be chosen as the MVP.
At the varsity level, the girls and boys winning team members will each receive a pull-over, compliments of McDonald’s.
There are also traveling plaques that go to the schools who win the varsity tournaments.
Each year, two of the schools each receive $2,000 to go toward the purchase of new uniforms. This year, the uniform money goes to London and Madison Plains.
The athletic directors from the four participating schools met with McDonald’s of Fayette County and Jamestown owner and operator, Nick Epifano on Thursday to discuss this year’s basketball tournaments.
“Nick is a very generous supporter of student-athletes,” Greeneview Athletic Director Mark Rinehart said. “We certainly thank him for that. It’s a great partnership that we have with him.
“We’re excited,” Rinehart said. “It gives us something over the holiday break, to compete for a tournament title. Our kids get excited about it every year. So, we’re looking forward to it. I also like that it involves our reserve teams. It’s good for those kids to keep playing and keep getting better by competing for a tournament title.”
“We greatly enjoy participating in the holiday tournament each year,” Miami Trace Athletic Director Aaron Hammond said. “Charlie Andrews, who was a long-time AD at Miami Trace, was one of the individuals who helped put the tournament together, originally.”
Miami Trace and Madison Plains are the two schools that have taken part in the tournament since the 1990s.
“Since Nick Epifano has been sponsoring the tournament, we continue to be very happy with our involvement and very appreciative of everything that Nick does, not only for our student-athletes, but the student-athletes for the other three schools, as well,” Hammond said.
“The holiday tournament, sponsored by McDonald’s of Fayette County and Jamestown, is a nice tournament for us, because it’s local and involves local teams that we have a long-standing relationship with and it also allows members of the communities of all four schools to come and watch the student-athletes who are participating. Traditionally, we have large crowds who come out and we are looking forward to this year’s holiday tournament.”
“We’re always happy to be a part of this,” Epifano said. “I think it’s a great thing that we do during the Christmas break, to get these teams together and really have some great competition.
“We’re always thankful for all the customers who patronize McDonald’s,” Epifano said. “They give us the opportunity to be able to hold this tournament. We thank everyone that visits to McDonald’s.
“It’s really one of the only times that we get a chance to have Jamestown be a part of the other restaurants in any kind of activities like this, from a sports perspective,” Epifano said. “It really does make it nice they can be a part of this. We always try to reinvest back into the community.”
The four schools shared $11,656 dollars from the 2015 tournament, bringing the total amount of funds raised to over $81,000 to the schools during the time McDonald’s of Fayette County and Jamestown has been the sponsor of the event.
“We love the holiday tournament,” Madison Plains Athletic Director Matt Mason said. “Ourselves and Miami Trace are two of the founding members of the tournament. It’s always been a great oppourtunity for our student-athletes and our community. It’s great for our fans to have these tournaments to attend over the Christmas break.
“Every aspect of it is great,” Mason said. “The competition is great for our student-athletes. With McDonald’s generosity, it just puts it over the top. We’re able to do things for our student-athletes with that revenue that we would not be able to do otherwise. Like the uniform allowance, it really helps put our programs in a good position. For a school our size, budgets are always tight and that money really goes a long way.”
“We very grateful to Mr. Epifano for what he does in sponsoring this event,” London Athletic Director Jim Wolverton said. “We’ve been a part of it for 10 or 12 years now. It’s a very good tournament, the camaraderie of the schools. We were in a league with two of them (Madison Plains and Miami Trace).
“It’s always been a great atmosphere for the kids to compete in and it’s always been good to work with the individuals who are a part of it,” Wolverton said.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1