The COVID-19 pandemic has already cast a cloud over the start of fall sports in the Lowcountry. Now, a marquee winter event is gone, too. The Seahawk Holiday Classic, Hilton Head Island High School’s annual prep hoops tournament, has been cancelled for the 2020-21 season.
“Due to the unknowns of our school district and many teams participating no longer being allowed to travel overnight/out of state, we feel we cannot run a quality and safe tournament for all to enjoy this year,” the tournament committee announced Monday afternoon.
One of the most anticipated showcases of the local hoops calendar for 33 years, the Holiday Classic has drawn teams from across the South and Northeast, spotlighting future NBA stars including Stephen Curry and Trevor Booker, along with phenom NFL wide receiver A.J. Green. Even international teams have competed in the event, including a squad from Australia. Last year, the tournament expanded to 32 teams from 11 different states, crowning a pair of boys’ and girls’ champions in four distinct brackets.
The cancellation of the tournament, normally held in mid- to late-December, raises questions about the future of interscholastic competition not just in the fall, but in the winter as well. As for now, the SCHSL fall sports season will begin with girls’ golf, swimming, and girls’ tennis practices next Monday, Aug. 17. Volleyball will hit the court and cross country will hit the trails a week later, on Aug. 24. Football practices will kick off on Sept. 8, with the first week of games set for the 25th. However, SCISA schools will start their football seasons much earlier, on Aug. 28. That’s two weeks from Friday.
The winter sports season has yet to be addressed by the leagues, but this move to shut down one of the most storied hoops traditions in the Lowco proved an important point: Unless improvements are made to slow the spread of the pandemic, the scheduling of large-scale events will remain in jeopardy.
Story by Wes Kerr
Wes Kerr is a graduate of Hilton Head Island High School and Davidson College. He has a passion for statistics and analytics.