The Capital City Classic has become an informal homecoming for the Juneau-Douglas High School basketball teams over the years, with recently graduated players and wayward-living alumni returning for the holidays and a weekend of competitive basketball.
Hopefully, the crowd can catch some of the exotic basketball action between conversations.
The tournament field this season includes a traveling squad of top Australian girls junior players, one of Washington's top boys programs and even a crew that represents the pride of a small Ohio town.
"I think every team enjoys coming down to Juneau because of the crowds we can get every year," JDHS girls head coach Lesslie Knight said. "During the Classic, you'll see a huge crowd of people turning around and catching up with everybody during the breaks. It's a reunion spot."
Crimson Bears boys coach Steve Potter sees the tournament serving another purpose for players, students and recent graduates - a positive social environment to keep them away from other holiday-break distractions.
"All the kids can come back and see most of their friends from the school or who graduated there. It's a situation where you don't need to be 21 to find yourself in that kind of environment," Potter said. "Under different circumstances it probably would be called our homecoming, but it's just another chance for the school and the community to get fired up over basketball."
While the social setting may draw crowds, the traditional Juneau support for their Bears has never been a problem, according to Potter. The coach just hopes that this year's tournament layout doesn't hurt the crowd sizes over the final two days of the tournament.
"It's kind of an odd setup this year, with games on Saturday and then back again on Monday and Tuesday," Potter said. "We've never had a bad crowd, and it will be interesting to see how that works out. I hope we still get some full stands."
One factor that might help bring out the crowd for Monday's and Tuesday's games, is that the Bears won't host another home contest for more than a month, when they bring in Eagle River on Feb. 6-7.
"I know the kids really enjoy everything about the Classic, and part of it is having so many people they know out there cheering them on," Potter said. "I hope to see everybody from around town out there at the games."
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