The holiday season means different things to different people and for yours truly it’s often dominated by the sounds of bouncing basketballs.

You see I had this brilliant idea a long time ago to host this “little” basketball tournament that involved eight teams and was played over three days at Ocean County College.

That was how the WOBM Christmas Classic began in 1984 and even I did not envision that it would grow into the largest high school tournament in the state.  The 34th annual edition of what’s become a holiday tradition features 32 teams (16 boys and 16 girls) who will play 52 games over six days at the Toms River Athletic Arena, formerly the Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River High North.

We have made a major change to the schedule for this year’s tournament in terms of the starting date.  In past years we would have played opening round games on the weekend of December 16-17 but that would mean teams would play a WOBM Christmas Classic tournament game and then likely two regular-season games the following week before the holiday break.

That reminded me of what happens with high school football in which some teams play a playoff game, regular-season game on Thanksgiving and then a state final the following week.  It just didn’t set well with me as I wanted the Christmas Classic to run in a tighter window.

With that said if you like high school basketball then mark Saturday, December 23rd on your calendar because on that day we will play all 16 first-round games in the two gyms that make up the arena.  We’ll start with the eight boys games at 10am and go right through the evening. It will be like a hoops marathon.  The tournament will then resume on Tuesday, December 26 and like in the past run right through the finals on Saturday, December 30.

This Sunday night the 32 head coaches will gather at The Villa banquet facility across from The Office Lounge & Restaurant in Toms River to seed the teams and we will announce the pairings and brackets early next week.