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The holidays are a time for family, food and celebration, but it’s also a time for top-level high school basketball.  This week the Asheville Christian Academy boys team ventures to Charlotte to participate in the Hoodies House High School Hoops Classic, one of the nation’s premier holiday tournaments.  Teams from five different states will converge on the campus of Providence Day School for the 16th edition of the tournament.

The Lions will have their hands full in their opening round matchup as they take on one of the country’s most historically powerful programs, DeMatha Cathoic High School located near Washington, D.C.  Through the years DeMatha has won six national titles and have placed multiple players in the NBA and high major Division I programs.  DeMatha was led for more than 40 years by legendary coach Morgan Wooten, who collected 1,274 wins in his illustrious career.

After Wooten’s retirement in 2002, current coach Mike Jones took over the program and will put a talented team on the floor against the Lions.  This year the Stags come into the Hoodies Hoop Classic undefeated with D.J. Harvey. a top-100 player in the country and a Notre Dame signee, leading the way.  They also boast 6-foot-10 Josh Carlton, who recently signed with the University of Connecticut, as well as point guard Ryan Allen, who has committed to play at the University of Delaware.

ACA comes into the matchup with DeMatha with its preseason starting five finally intact.  The Lions have dealt with a myriad of injuries, but for the first time all season a team close to full strength will hit the floor.  Knee surgery to 6-foot-7 Justin Tene has kept him on the shelf for all but one game this year, and 6-foot-7 Chris Clayton returns after suffering a severe ankle sprain three weeks ago.  Couple those returns with the high-caliber play of sophomore Caleb Mills, junior Max Spurling and senior point guard Coleman Compton, and the Lions appear to be moving in the right direction.

Game time against DeMatha is set for 6 p.m. at Providence Day on Wednesday, Dec. 28.  The Lions will also play on Thursday Dec. 29 and Friday Dec. 30.  Check the tournament website at hoodiesclassic.com for more tournament information.

The ACA girls team gets ready to start its holiday play this week at the Freedom High School tournament, held in Morganton.  The Lions are off to one of their best starts in years, coming into action this week with an 11-3 overall record.  ACA will take on RS Central High School in the opening round scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 27.

The Lions will likely have to contend with the host school Freedom if they get past RS Central, with two local powerhouses - East Burke and McDowell - looming on the other side of the bracket.

For more about ACA basketball and other athletic news, visit ashevillechristian.org.  You can also follow the athletic teams via twitter @ACAAthletics.

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