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Morgan Park's Dominique Lee grabs a rebound in the first half during the Proviso West Holiday Tournament first semifinal game Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011, in Hillside. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

The history and tradition of the Proviso West Holiday tournament was too good to pass up for coaches Tony Lavorato Jr. and Jay Baum.

The coaches from Maine South and Downers Grove South left York's Tosh Holiday Classic to become new additions to the expanded 32-team Proviso West tournament, which opens its 52nd year later this month.

The tournament has added an extra day. Half the field will open play Dec. 22 and the bottom half of the bracket plays Dec. 26. All teams are now guaranteed at least three games instead of two. The tournament will be held Dec, 22, Dec. 26-29 and Dec. 31. The championship game will be held at 4 p.m.

"We would like to compete for the top spot in our conference (Central Suburban League South) year in and year out," Lavorato said. "We think this (tournament) will help us do that."

Maine South is one of 13 schools that will make its Proviso West debut this year.

Downers South returns to Proviso West for the first time in 24 years after playing in the tournament from 1983-88.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be here," Baum said. "I thought it's a great tournament. There is a lot of  history. We want to be here. They don't ask anybody (to play)."

Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce's team won last year's title in his first season as coach. As a former Proviso East star, Boyce played at the Proviso West tournament from 1988-91. The defending champion Pirates open at 7 p.m. Dec. 22 against T.F. South after winning their first tournament title in 20 years.

"I think it's great idea (to expand)," Boyce said. "I thought this was long overdue. I always thought this should be a national tournament."

The expanded tournament will feature two playing courts. All teams will play in the first round at the school's Sports Arena, but many of the consolation games will be played at a temporary court with seating in the school's fieldhouse. The first games held in the new fieldhouse court will be Dec. 27.

"It's going to be very nice," tournament director Joe Spagnolo said of the fieldhouse. "I feel confident about that. I think you will like it."

Other notes on tournament teams:

    •    Nazareth sophomore Tyler Jackson will become the third 7-footer to play in Proviso West tournament.
    •    Oswego becomes the first team from the Suburban Prairie Conference to play in the tournament.
    •    New Trier will make its 35th consecutive appearance.
    •    Ellison will become the first charter school to play at Proviso West.
    •    Glenbard East returns to the tournament since playing last in 1962 when the tournament expanded from eight to 16 teams.
    •    Chris Head of Brooks becomes the first coach to lead three different teams in the tournament. He coached Westinghouse to titles in 1998 and 1999 and coached Proviso West in 2002.
    •    Crespi Carmelite of Encino, Calif. will become the first out-of-state school to play in the tournament.


Saturday, Dec. 22

Oswego vs. Lincoln Park, 9 a.m.

New Trier vs. Nazareth, 10:30 a.m.

Westinghouse vs. Downers South, 12:15

Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Ellison, 1:45

Benet vs. Urban Prep-West, 3:45

Morton vs. Dunbar, 5:15

Proviso East vs. T.F. South, 7

Rockford Auburn vs. Foreman, 8:30


Wednesday, Dec. 26

Hillcrest vs. Maine South, 9 a.m.

Glenbard East vs. Glenbrook North, 10:30 a.m.

Stevenson vs. Hinsdale Central, 12:15

St. Charles East vs. Von Steuben, 1:45

Proviso West vs. Fenwick, 3:45

Morgan Park vs. Wheaton Academy, 5:15

Crespi Carmelite (Calif.) vs. Bogan, 7

St. Joseph vs. Brooks, 8:30


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