The 54th Annual Johnny Mac’s/Carbondale Holiday Tournament begins at both SIU Arena and Carbondale Community High School on Wednesday.
The three-day event features 16 teams, four of which are local, from across the Midwest.
The teams in the large school bracket will play at SIU on the opening day. The small school teams will compete at CCHS. It will be reversed on day two.
The host Terriers take on Logan County, Ky., at 6:30 p.m. at SIU. Carbondale has been playing well since it lost its leading scorer, Kani Acree, to injury a few weeks ago.
“We’re still in the process of trying to figure out who we are now,” Miller said. “Darius (Beane) has done a great job of stepping up and being a leader for us. He has been a positive influence during practice and during games. I have been really impressed with this team, which is very youthful, because of how much maturity they have shown. Our young kids have showed poise.”
A trio of sophomores, including James Baltz, Clayton Greer and Davaris Macklin, have picked up the scoring slack in Acree’s absence.
“We understood that certain kids are limited, but some roles have changed,” Miller said. “Our young kids have flourished in their situation. Zee Johnson and Seth Ousley have stepped up and shown leadership as well. Not having Kani on the floor could have been devastating for us, but they are handling it well. You have to play the hand your dealt. I couldn’t be happier with the progress we’ve made, but we have a lot of learning to do. So far, I am pleased with the progress.”
Marion takes on McCluer, Mo., in the 8 p.m. contest at SIU Arena.
“Marion probably has one of the best teams that they’ve had in recent memory,” Miller said. “They’ve got an outstanding group that is very versatile. They have good inside and outside game. Their effort has been outstanding from what I’ve seen. Adding Coach (Gus) Gillespie with his experience makes them a very formidable team.”
Memphis University High and Union City, Tenn., start the day at SIU in the 3 p.m. game. Memphis Central High plays Covington, Tenn., in the 4:30 p.m. game.
Murphysboro takes on Lake County, Tenn., in the 6:30 p.m. contest at CCHS. The Red Devils only loss this season is to Carbondale.
“I can’t speak enough about how impressed I’ve been with that program over the years,” Miller said of Murphysboro. “They compete at a high level every single night. Coach (Daryl) Murphy does a great job of getting everything out of those kids that he possibly can. His kids always respond very well to him.”
On day two, the Red Devils play the winner/loser of the Cardinal Ritter, Mo., versus Collins Academy game, which takes place at 8 p.m. Wednesday at CCHS.
Meridian plays St. Mary’s High School out of Kentucky at 4:30 p.m. at CCHS. On day two, the Bobcats battle the winner/loser of the Saxony Lutheran/New Madrid game, which starts at 3 p.m. at CCHS Wednesday.
“Our tournament is very balanced,” Miller said. “It would be really hard to predict who is going to come out of it this year.”
Memphis Ridgeway, which won the event last year, is not in this year’s field. The championship game takes at 8 p.m. Friday at SIU.
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