Will bigger be better for one of the best boys basketball holiday tournaments around? That will be determined in December as the 32-team field was announced for the Proviso West Holiday Tournament.
Daily Herald-area schools taking part in the tourney, which doubled from 16 teams, are Benet, Downers Grove South, Glenbard East, Hinsdale Central, St. Charles East, Stevenson and Wheaton Academy. Twenty conferences are represented and Crespi, from Encino, Calif., will be the first out-of-state tourney participant. Also in the field are Bogan, Brooks, CICS/Ralph Ellison, Fenwick, Foreman, Glenbrook North, Hillcrest, Homewood-Flossmoor, Hope Academy, Lincoln Park, Maine South, Morgan Park, Morton, Nazareth, New Trier, Oswego, Proviso East, Proviso West, Rockford Auburn, St. Joseph, Thornton Fractional South, Urban Prep West, Von Steuben and Westinghouse.
The 52-year-old event will now be the nation's largest high school tournament under a single roof with first-round games on Saturday, Dec. 22 and Wednesday, Dec. 26. The tourney will be played on two courts Dec. 27-29 with five trophy games Monday, Dec. 31. Games will be played in the main gym and on a portable floor in the fieldhouse.
“It’s about a close as you can get to a mini NCAA Tournament”, said Proviso West tournament director Joe Spagnolo in a news release. “There are 13 schools that have been here 10 or more years, and some emerging programs that are on the rise, that are looking forward to the opportunity to make history.
"We're going for greatness," said Spagnolo, who has been affiliated with the tournament since 1981. "We've been working on it for a long time. It will give more teams an opportunity to play here. I got tired of saying 'no' to new teams that wanted to play here.
"Our mission has always been to promote high school basketball. Our motto is: 'Proviso West is where basketball is best.' We want everyone to enjoy what we have, from paying customers to referees to participants. We think it is a special event and we want more people to get involved in it."
The Proviso West tourney had eight teams in its first year and expanded to 16 the following year. Seeing all the games now won't be easy but Spagnolo said, "If you're quick on your feet, you'll be able to see the end of all 61 games in the tournament."