HOOPS: Franklin County Tip-Off has come full circle
After a four-year cycle, the Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament is returning back to its origins at James Buchanan High School.
The tournament, which will be hosted Friday and Saturday starting at 4 p.m., is beloved in the area, because it gives a chance for the teams in the area to get a first look at the local competition.
"All three teams that we'll possibly be playing, I thought they all had really good summers," Chambersburg boys coach Shawn Shreffler said. "All three are very well-coached, and they are quality basketball teams that do some things really, really well. It should be a good tournament."
Chambersburg is the defending boys champion, defeating Greencastle-Antrim 42-38 in last year's title matchup. The Blue Devils' girls team has won the last two years in a row.
"We'll see if we can do it again," G-A girls coach Mike Rhine said. "All the teams are improving, and that's how it's supposed to be."
Greencastle's girls will kick off the tournament, facing off against Waynesboro at 4 p.m., with the same boys matchup following at 5:30. Chambersburg's girls will take on host James Buchanan at 7, and the boys game will be played at 8:30.
"I know Waynesboro has a couple strong returners, and they have a slew of ninth-graders that are pretty athletic," Rhine said. "I don't know if it's called a rebuild, exactly, but things are looking up for them. Cat Weber is a really good player, so I think they'll do better this year."
What's really interesting about the Chambersburg-James Buchanan girls matchup is that despite Jen Lauthers and Barry Purvis coaching a total of 934 games, the two have never met.
"I don't think we ever got a chance to play each other; I do remember his purple socks, though," Lauthers said. "He's got some girls coming back and some post players coming back, so that's where I'm a little nervous. I think we're pretty evenly matched as far as our quickness, so I do think we have a chance to win."
Lauthers said her big goal was to simply do better than the 0-2 start the Rockets had last season.
Moreover, both James Buchanan squads want to get a victory on their home court.
"I would say that we have an edge, because certainly it's nice to play at home on a court that you practice on every day," JB boys coach Larry Strawoet said. "For us, we need to be able to take advantage of that edge. We're in familiar surroundings, and we want to capitalize on that."
JB, Waynesboro and Greencastle get a chance to see teams they'll have to face twice later on down the line in Mid Penn Colonial Division action.
"These games won't count toward our win-loss total (in the division), but it's very important for our overall win total," G-A boys coach Gary Martin said. "Even if we were 0-21, we'd want to win. We want to win every time, but with it being Waynesboro, it's even more special."
Meanwhile, the Indians are looking to be tested right out of the gate against a Blue Devil team that should be much improved.
"They're gonna be pretty good, first of all," Waynesboro boys coach Tom Hoffman said. "We'll find out a lot about ourselves right off the bat. We're looking forward to it. Any time you're playing a team three times in one year, it's a challenge. We pretty much know each other anyway, though."
We're all going to know a lot more after this weekend, that's for sure.
Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament
Where: James Buchanan High School
When: Friday and Saturday at 4 p.m.
Cost: Admission is $5 for adults, or $2 for students. Mid Penn passes will be accepted.
Friday's schedule: Waynesboro vs. Greencastle girls, 4 ... Waynesboro vs. Greencastle boys, 5:30 ... Chambersburg vs. James Buchanan girls, 7 ... Chambersburg vs. James Buchanan boys, 8:30
Saturday's schedule: Girls consolation, 4 ... Boys consolation, 5:30 ... Girls championship, 7 ... Boys championship, 8:30
P.O.'s predicted winners: Greencastle girls and Chambersburg boys.