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Pair of high school basketball tournaments highlight area sports action next week

Although Christmas and New Year’s may already be planned out, a pair of area basketball tournaments might help to bridge the gap.

It starts in a big way on Tuesday with the Arvin Holiday Showcase, a three-day high school girls tournament scheduled to feature 48 teams in six different divisions at four locations in Arvin and Bakersfield.

A handful of boys basketball teams spring into action the following day for the Elite Eight Challenge at Garces, a three-day event that runs Wednesday through Friday, featuring four Kern County teams and four from outside the area.

The Holiday Showcase will have games played at Arvin, Golden Valley, Mira Monte and Sunset Middle School, with play starting at 11 a.m. at each location on Tuesday.

Bakersfield High, which has reached the Central Section championship the last five seasons, will highlight the Noemi “Nemo” Perez Platinum Bracket.

The tournament has been played in Perez’s honor since 2010. The former Bears’ standout athlete was killed by a drunk driver in 2009 while traveling to Cal State Bakersfield, where she planned on competing for the Roadrunners’ track and field team.

"I was fortunate to have been AD during Noemi's time at Arvin," Bears athletic director Ralph Gonzales said. "A three-sport athlete, she was everything you hope for in a high school athlete. Great student, tenacious when playing and absolutely loved by teammates and coaches."

In addition to the Drillers, Arvin, Burroughs, Orcutt, San Leandro, San Luis Obispo-Mission Prep, Santa Maria-St. Joseph and Stockdale will compete for the Platinum title.

Bakersfield Christian, Dinuba, Frontier, Lompoc, Mira Monte, North, Paso Robles and Ridgeview will play in the Frank Thiessen Silver Bracket.

Golden Valley, Liberty, Shafter, Tehachapi and West will play in the Gary Sedam Gold Bracket, along with Cabrillo, Morro Bay and Sanger.

The Tod Denison Opal Bracket will feature area teams from Chavez, East, Garces, Independence and Taft, with Lancaster-Eastside, Lemoore and Santa Ynez traveling to participate.

The Fred Olague Ruby Bracket includes Bishop, Lancaster-Paraclete, Orosi, Rosamond, Santa Maria-Pioneer Valley, South Templeton and Wasco.

Foothill, Kennedy, Kern Valley, Mojave and Wonderful Prep will be joined by Atascadero, Castaic and Lone Pine in the Bill Nelson Bronze Bracket.

"The Arvin tournament is a team effort," Gonzales said. "We really enjoy having out-of-area teams so we can get a lot of matchups that local teams wouldn't usually have."

In the Elite Eight Challenge, Garces will host teams from Chavez, Fresno-Roosevelt, Fresno-Washington Union, Pioneer Valley, Santa Ynez, Shafter and West.

The Vikings (9-2) won the Lloyd Williams Holiday Hoops tournament title earlier this month.

"Garces has been hosting an annual boys basketball tournament around the Christmas holiday for the past 25 years," Rams coach Brian Dignan said. "The tournament format has changed through the years, but the one constant has been (that we) offer a first-class tournament for all teams that enter."