09.19.19 | News
Early Christmas: Teams revealed for Culligan City of Palms Classic
There are few bigger pre-holiday presents for basketball fans than pulling the bow off another star-studded field for the 47th annual Culligan City of Palms Classic high school basketball tournament.
The 2019 teams were revealed Wednesday and it’s quite a present for fans, headlined by IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.), the No. 1 and No. 2 teams according to USA TODAY’s first preseason poll, heading into the 2019-20 season. They join 14 other teams in the main draw for the tournament set for Dec. 18-23 at 3,500-seat Suncoast Credit Union Arena on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State College.
Besides IMG and Montverde, the main draw is loaded with top-shelf talent, including hometown Fort Myers, Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.), Briarcrest Christian (Memphis, Tenn.), Scotlandville (Baton Rouge, La.), Sanford (Hockessin, Del.), Vashon (St. Louis, Mo.), Gonzaga Prep (Washington, DC), O’Dea (Seattle, Wash.), Roman Catholic (Philadelphia, Penn.), Riverview (Sarasota, Fla.), Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, NY), Marshall County (Benton, Ky.) and Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.). But those 16 teams are just the start as the Signature Series bracket and Sunshine Series
bracket are also loaded with star power.
Taking to the court for Signature Series games will be St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.), West Oaks (Orlando, Fla.), Hamilton Heights Christian (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.). The always popular Sunshine Series is made up of Charlotte (Punta Gorda), Lakewood (St. Petersburg), Evangelical Christian School (Fort Myers), Seminole (Sanford), Stranahan (Fort Lauderdale), and Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens).
And there is more! In honor of a legendary college and high school coach, the first Hugh Thimlar Tribute Game, featuring hometown Lehigh Senior High School and Venice High School, will be played. As coach of then-Edison Junior College, Thimlar created a junior college national powerhouse over 26 seasons. Overall, he won 604 games over 40 seasons a head coach in Indiana and Florida. He also founded the City of Palms tournament, called the News-Press Christmas Basketball Tournament, in 1973, with six teams competing at Edison in a regional tournament.