Holiday hoops, hockey abound around state

FAIRMONT – Feeling a bit claustrophobic after spending a couple of days with extra family members milling around inside your house?

Feeling as stuffed as a Christmas Day turkey from too many delectable dishes and tasty treats?

Bored after watching either college football bowl games that you’ve never heard of or NBA teams which you really don’t care about?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, today is your lucky day as one of two area prep hockey teams and two of 10 regional high school basketball lineups will kick off a week-long stretch of holiday tournament action.

The Fairmont Area Cardinals boys hockey team opens the holiday schedule by squaring off against the Prairie Centre North Stars – a cooperative program consisting of Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Melrose and Sauk Centre – at 2:30 p.m. today at the Minnehaha Academy Tournament.

Fairmont Area then returns to the ice against either Morris/Benson Area or host Minnehaha Academy on Friday at a time to be determined to wrap up the two-day event.

If hoops is more to your liking, then travel to Mountain Lake. The Truman/ Martin Luther BluejayKnights boys basketball team tips off area hardwood court action by facing the Class 1A, No. 3-ranked Mountain Lake Area Wolverines (7-0) in a 7:15 p.m. first-round clash tonight at the Wolverine Holiday Classic.

The winner between Mountain Lake Area and Truman/Martin Luther will face the winner of today’s 3:45 p.m. contest between Ellsworth and Legacy Christian Academy of Andover in the four-team tournament’s championship game at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The third-place contest is set for a 2 p.m. tipoff on Friday in Mountain Lake.

But the Wolverines will not be the only area ranked team in action as the Class 2A, No. 3-ranked Fairmont Cardinals (7-1) battle the Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Knights (6-2) at 8 p.m. tonight at Younge Gym on the Bethany Lutheran College campus in Mankato in the opening-round of the eight-team Pepsi Holiday Tournament.

If Fairmont defeats LCWM, it squares off against the winner of today’s 6 p.m. first-round game between Mankato Loyola and Minnesota Valley Lutheran in a 6:30 p.m. championship semifinal on Friday at the North Gym. The upper-bracket consolation semifinal is set for 6 p.m. Friday at Younge Gym.

In the lower half of the bracket, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (6-0) faces St. Croix Lutheran (5-2) at 6:30 p.m. tonight at North Gym, followed by St. Clair (6-2) against Maple River (3-4) in an 8:30 p.m. opener.

The three-day tourney wraps up Saturday, with the third-place set for 6:30 p.m. at North Gym, with the championship game to follow at 8:30 p.m.

If you head north on Highway 15 on Friday, the Fairmont Cardinals girls basketball team (7-1) and Braham Bombers (7-0) each put their seven-game winning streaks on the line at 4 p.m. at the St. Cloud Tech Holiday Classic in St. Cloud.

Fairmont then closes out the non-bracketed six-team event by playing Zimmerman at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in St. Cloud.

Hit the highway to the west, and the Martin County West Mavericks girls hoopsters (6-1) face Russell-Tyler-Ruthton at 4:15 p.m. Friday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall in a rare one-day event.

Keep traveling south and you can watch a first-round matchup between the Blue Earth Area Bucs and the Martin Luther Knights in the girls portion of the Windom Holiday Classic at 6 p.m. Friday in Windom.

The winner between the Knights and the Bucs faces the victor between host Windom Area and Hope Academy of Minneapolis in a 4:30 p.m. championship clash on Saturday. The third-place game is set for 3 p.m. Saturday.

About 50 miles nearly straight north of Windom on Highway 71, you can catch the opening round of the Redwood Valley boys basketball holiday tournament in Redwood Falls.

Hayfield (8-1) battles Lakeview at 6:30 p.m. Friday before the Martin County West Mavericks (5-0) square off against the Class 2A, No. 8-ranked Redwood Valley Cardinals (6-1) in an 8 p.m. showdown.

The third-place game is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Redwood Falls, followed by the championship game at 8 p.m.

If you’re looking to stay closer to home, then Blue Earth Area High School is your destination on Friday and Saturday.

Jackson County Central plays United South Central at 6 p.m. Friday in first-round boys basketball action in the four-team Buc Invitational before host Blue Earth Area takes on the Granada-Huntley-East Chain Mustangs in a 7:45 p.m. clash.

The third-place contest is set for 6 p.m. Saturday in Blue Earth, with the championship tilt to follow at 7:45 p.m.

Ready to hit the road before 2013 ends?

Then gas up and head to the Schwan’s Super Rink Tournament in Blaine on Monday for Day 1 of a three-day holiday girls hockey event.

The Fairmont Area Cardinals open the eight-team White bracket against the St. Paul Blades at 4:15 p.m. Monday.

Fairmont Area then will face either Eveleth-Gilbert or Marshall in a 4:15 p.m. semifinal or in a 2 p.m. consolation semifinal on Tuesday.

The Schwan’s Cup event concludes on New Year’s Day at the Blaine facility.