Photo provided
Current Head Coach of Lafayette Jeff and former standout player for Lapel, Mark Barnhizer speaks at the Hall of Fame Classic this past fall
Photo provided Current Head Coach of Lafayette Jeff and former standout player for Lapel, Mark Barnhizer speaks at the Hall of Fame Classic this past fall

I used to work for a sports editor several years ago who sorta looked like he’d be a good candidate to play Santa Claus and hand out goodies at a local mall.

All he was missing was a white beard, a constant friendly smile, and a hearty “Ho, Ho, Ho.’’

Turns out he was more of a Bah humbug type. 

When it came to basketball, boys specifically, he believed that Indiana high school basketball never really started to peak until January.

His rationale was that the interest really wasn’t there during the first couple months of the season and that, quite frankly, “There wasn’t much to get excited about,’’ he told me.

Well, I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t go along with such thinking.

Not by a long shot!

There’s plenty to do during Christmas vacation here in Hamilton County and even around the state for both boys and girls.

Yep, there will be plenty of good basketball to check out during the holiday, starting a few days before Christmas.

So don’t forget that the annual Fishers-Hamilton SE Mudsock games will be contested on Dec. 20 and 21.

The Fishers boys visit Hamilton SE on Dec. 20, and the Lady Royals are at Fishers the next evening.

Adding to the excitement of the girls game, Fishers is ranked No. 4 and HSE No. 6 in the most recent Class 4A coaches’ association poll. The Lady Tigers are unbeaten (12-0) going int their Dec. 19 game against Pendleton Heights. The Lady Royals were 10-1 going into the Dec. 17 contest at New Castle, and senior Sydney Parrish ranked No. 3 in state scoring at 26.7 points per game. 

The Fishers boys, who are 6-0 and ranked 12th in the state, also compete in the Dec. 27-28 Bedford North tourney (see pairings below).
One of the biggest tournaments that continues to grow in stature is the Raymond James Indiana Hall of Fame Classic on Dec. 27 & 28 at the newly renovated New Castle Fieldhouse.

Girls games involve 4A Brownsburg and Penn, followed by 3A Salem and 4A Crown Point to open the Classic. Class 3A Silver Creek meets Heritage Hills, and 4A schools Lawrence Central and Lafayette Jeff collide in the second game.

The boys games should be especially interesting. 

Silver Creek, the defending state champion, returns sophomores Trey Kaufman (6-8) and Kooper Jacobi (6-6). Heritage Hills returns their top four scorers, along with 6-4 Murray Beacher, a 20-point scorer and an Indiana Junior All-Star, from a 22-2 squad that won 19 straight games.

Lafayette Jeff, which had the seventh-highest scoring team in the state last season, returns senior Braxton Barnhizer (19.8 ppg) and his junior brother 6-8 Brooks Barnhizer (16.2 ppg).

The Bronchos are coached by Mark Barnhizer, the former Lapel high school great who once was referred to as “the state’s best shooter not named (Rick) Mount.’’

Al Gooden’s Lawrence Central squad, ranked No. 1 in the state before losing to No. 4 Lawrence North last week, is No. 3 this week. The Bears return junior all-stars 6-6 Dre Davis (16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds) and 6-1 point guard Nijel Pack (16.5 ppg, 4.1 assists), both of whom are Div. 1 signees at Louisville and Kansas State, respectively.

(Those attending the Hall of Fame Classic can take advantage of the time between the afternoon and evening games by paying a visit to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s quite a place to tour!)

Some other holiday games that should be of interest:

BOYS

Dec. 27-28
Noblesville Holiday Tourney:
Friday, Dec. 27
Game 1: 11:00 a.m. — Fort Wayne Blackhawk vs. Chesterton 
Game 2: 12:45 p.m. —Andrean vs. Northridge 
Game 3: 2:30 — Crown Point vs. Noblesville
Game 4: 4:15 — Columbus North vs. New Albany 
Game 5: 6:00 — Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 
Game 6: 7:45 — Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 
Saturday, Dec. 28
Game 7: 11a.m. — Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 
Game 8: 12:45 p.m. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 
Game 9: 2:30 — Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6 (7th place)
Game 10: 4:45 — Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 (5th place)
Game 11: 6:00 — Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8 (3rd place)
Game 12: Game 12 —Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 (championship)
————*—————
Dec. 27-28
University and Fishers at Bedford North Lawrence Tourney
Dec. 27
10 a.m.—University vs. Evansville Harrison
11:45 — Fishers vs. New Palestine
 6 p.m.— University vs. Milan
 6 p.m. — Fishers vs. Bloomington North
Dec. 28
11:45 a.m.—University vs. BNL
11:45 a.m. — Fishers vs. Scottsburg
(Note: Pool B vs. A games for 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st places will be played at 6 and 7:45 p.m. University is in Pool A and Fishers in Pool  B.)
————*—————
Dec. 28
Hamilton Heights at Franklin Co., Tournament
Game 1: 10:30 a.m. — Franklin Co. vs.Triton Central
Game 4: Noon — Hamilton Heights vs. Indian Creek
Game 7: 4:00 — Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4
Game 8: 6:00 — Winner game 3 vs. Winner Game 4
(Note: JV teams also play at various times)

GIRLS

Dec. 27
Westfield at Columbus North Subway Invite
(First-round games; winners, losers
bracket games played on Dec. 28)
Game 1: 6 p.m. — Elkhart Central vs. Columbus North
Game 2: 6:00 — Ev. North vs. Zionsville
Game 3: 7:45: — Northwestern vs. Westfield
Game 4: 9:00 — Jeffersonville vs. Mooresville
————*—————
Dec. 27-28
Hamilton SE at North Central Classic
Dec. 27
2:45 p.m. — HSE vs. Henderson County (KY)
Dec. 28
1 p.m. — HSE vs. Springboro (Ohio)
————*—————
Dec. 27 
Noblesville at Southport Tourney
10:00 a.m.— Southport vs. Greensburg 
Noon — Noblesville vs. New Palestine 
4:00 — Consolation 
6:00 — Championship 
————*—————
Dec. 28
Guerin Catholic at Loogootee Shooutout
10:30 a.m. — Guerin vs. Boonville
 2:30 p.m. — Guerin vs. Loogootee-Ev. Harrison winner
————*—————
Dec. 30
University at Bishop Chatard Tourney
2 p.m. — University vs. Chatard
————*—————
Jan. 4
Hamilton Heights at 2020 Plainfield Winter Classic
10 a.m. — Plainfield vs. Madison
11:30 — Roncalli vs. Hamilton Heights
6 p.m. — Loser Game 1 vs.Loser Game 2 (3rd place)
7:45 — Winner game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (championship)
(Note: JV teams also play at various times)


*—Mark Morrow, a Hall of Fame Indiana sportswriter, has resided in Hamilton County since 1989. You can follow him in The Times, and on Twitter at mmediamarko12. He can be reached at mediamarko5@gmail.com or by calling 317 460-8018.