Holiday basketball tournaments set for Destin

Special to The Log
Fort Walton Beach Viking P-Nut Payton goes up for a shot between a pair of players from Marist High of Georgia during last year's Destin Holiday Classic held at Destin Middle School. The Vikings will be participating in the Classic again this year while Marist will be playing in the Beach Shootout. TINA HARBUCK/THE LOG

The popularity and success of the Destin Holiday Classic basketball tournament the last few years has caused some growing pains. However, those are growing pains of progress that will benefit the area.

The third Destin Holiday Classic basketball tournament will feature 16 of the best high school girls’ basketball teams from across the nation Dec. 28 to 30 at the Destin Middle School gymnasium. And the newly formed Destin Basketball on the Beach Shootout will feature eight teams from across the South and will be played Dec. 19 to 21, also at the Destin Middle School gym.

“We had over 150 teams request to play in our tournament after last year’s event,” said tournament director Scott McKinney. “It speaks volumes to how the city of Destin and our people here across the Panhandle have accepted and supported the tournament. Teams are calling us wanting to come to Destin and play.”

Local teams playing in this year’s Destin Holiday Classic include the Fort Walton Beach High School Vikings, Niceville High Golden Eagles, South Walton High Seahawks and the Paxton High Bobcats.

Other teams slated to compete in the classic are Taylor County High of Kentucky; Murfreesboro High, Tennessee; Louisville Male High, Kentucky; Wildwood High, Florida; Paul VI Catholic High, Virginia; Northwest Whitfield High, Georgia; Saks High, Alabama; New Site High, Mississippi; Northview Academy, Tennessee; Greenup County High, Kentucky; Madison County High, Florida; and North Bullitt High, Kentucky.

The eight teams participating in the Destin Basketball on the Beach Shootout include Marist School of Georgia; Pulaski County High School, Arkansas; Sullivan Central High School, Tennessee; White County High School, Georgia; Murphy High School, Alabama; Livingston Academy, Tennessee; Signal Mountain High School, Tennessee; and Memphis Washington High School, Tennessee.

The Destin Holiday Classic will feature three teams ranked in the USA TODAY High School girl’s basketball rankings: Paul VI of Virginia (fourth); Murfreesboro Blackman of Tennessee (ninth); and Louisville Male of Kentucky (21st).

“These should be two weeks of great basketball and I am hoping our local residents will come out once again and watch,” McKinney said. “We are growing and all of these teams will bring a lot of fans and parents to the area. It should be two awesome tournaments.”