HC SQUARED:  Building a New Tradition of Basketball at Its Best


HINSDALE, Ill. - Hinsdale Central High School has played host to big-time basketball contests with full capacity crowds for countless years. So when Hinsdale Central Head Boy’s Basketball Coach Nick Latorre approached Athletic Director Dan Jones about creating a new tournament, Jones believed that the school was up for the challenge of creating a new tournament.

A former Athletic Director at DeKalb High School, Jones is no stranger to running Holiday Tournaments. He helped run DeKalb’s Chuck Dayton Holiday Classic, the longest running tournament in the state.

“There was a lot of tradition and pride associated with running [the DeKalb Chuck Dayton Holiday Classic],” said Jones. “I believed that if we hosted a tournament at Hinsdale Central, with our gym, facility and location, I thought we can have something pretty special that can be around for many years.”

Hinsdale Central’s is experienced in hosting large scale events such as the boy’s and girl’s basketball supersectionals and the IHSA state gymnastics final , but starting a new basketball tournament from scratch isn’t easy though. Jones knew that one of the first challenges would be getting teams interested and having the right people in place to help run the tournament. Enter Joe Spagnolo. An inductee in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Spagnolo spent over 25 years serving as the director of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament.

“With Joe Spagnolo on board with his expertise and connections, I knew we could get this off the ground,” Jones said.”

After a year away from running a tournament, Spagnolo jumped at the chance to help get the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic off the ground. “This was a great opportunity to do something new at a place that has unlimited potential,” said Spagnolo. “Starting with a great facility, Hinsdale Central is already known for hosting big events and having a community that supports basketball. Building from the ground floor was also intriguing, as everything you do is a new piece of history. The people here are great and we know we’re are going to a place that is very supportive.”

Filling a tournament with 16 teams was one of Spagnolo’s first tasks. He quickly went to work and pulled in 16 teams from 15 different conferences. His haul includes, Stevenson High School, the defending IHSA 4A champion and Crespi Carmelite, the 2015 California Division IV state champion. He believes that the variety of teams, the styles of play and the up-and-coming talent, will make the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic quickly standout.

“I think every tournament has its own identity,” he said. “There was certainly a void that was needed to be filled for a tournament that had a balance of teams with different styles from different locations.  We wanted to build some long lasting relationships and went after programs that have been very successful and others that we know were on the rise with some great underclass talent. Of course having two defending state champions from two different states in the field certainly raises the bar high in our first year and will make us work even harder to provide an even better encore in years to come.”

Spagnolo believes that other schools will also gain interest in the tournament after its inaugural year. “We had some teams on our short list for this season that expressed an interest but were contractually bound at other places,” he said. “We are meeting our goal of providing an excellent atmosphere for competition, and we feel many teams will want to part of our tournament in the future.”

With the tournament just a little more than three months away, Jones believes excitement in the community is already building. “From our boosters, to community members and to other schools, I think everyone is excited about the tournament and having high school basketball over the holidays in our historic gym,” said Jones.

The Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic will tip-off on December 26, 2015.


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