PREP BASKETBALL

Holiday hoops: District 9 Officials Christmas Basketball Tournament starts Thursday

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The District 9 Officials Christmas Basketball Tournament begins on Thursday, and it will be played at a new venue - the Lee Central High School gymnasium in Bishopville.

There are seven girls teams in the tournament - 5A Blythewood and Spring Valley, 4A Crestwood and Hartsville, 3A Newberry, 2A Lee Central and 1A Scott's Branch. There are three boys teams - Lee Central, Scott's Branch and 1A C.E. Murray.

Play on Thursday begins at 11 a.m. with seven games on the schedule. The final one is a boys game scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. between C.E. Murray and Lee Central.

Six games are scheduled for Friday with the first one set for a noon start. The final game is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. between Lee Central and Scott's Branch.

The championship games are scheduled for Saturday with the girls starting at 6 p.m. and followed by the boys contest.

Three of the girls teams are ranked in the most recent South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association polls. Spring Valley is ranked ninth in 5A, while Crestwood is fifth in 4A. Newberry is No. 5 in 3A.

Lee Central's boys are ranked fifth in 2A.

Crestwood's Jah'Che Whitfield is listed as one of the top five seniors in 4A by the SCBCA, while Newberry's Kelsey Felks owns the same honor in 3A.

The Crestwood girls will play twice on Thursday and once on Friday. The Lady Knights will meet Scott's Branch at 11 a.m. on Thursday and take on Spring Valley at 3:30 p.m. Crestwood and Newberry will play at 6 p.m. on Friday.

The Scott's Branch girls will also play Newberry at 2 p.m. on Thursday and Spring Valley at 3 p.m. on Friday.

The Lee Central teams play once each day. The Lady Stallions play Hartsville at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and Blythewood at 1:30 p.m. on Friday. The LC boys play the final game each day against C.E. Murray and Scott's Branch, respectively.